News / Health

India Reaches Polio-Free Milestone

India Reaches Polio-Free Milestonei
X
January 14, 2014 8:52 AM
It's been three years since India has recorded a new case of polio, a critical achievement that puts the entire region on target to be certified polio-free. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
For three years, India has not recorded a new case of polio, a critical achievement that puts the entire region on target to be certified polio-free.

Eradicating the crippling disease from India has been one of the greatest challenges in the global effort, costing $2 billion since 1995.

Before then, the disease claimed 50,000 to 100,000 victims every year, according to the World Health Organization, mostly children under five years old.

“There were many critics who felt it was impossible to eradicate polio from India,” said Steve Cochi, senior advisor in the global immunization division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

High population density, frequent migration, poor sanitation and weak health systems made fighting the disease a challenge.

Indian Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad credited the landmark achievement to “unwavering political will at the highest level, commitment of adequate financial resources, technological innovations as well as efforts of millions of workers.”

India falls under the World Health Organization’s Southeast Asia region, and WHO will meet in March to discuss certifying the region as polio-free.

Fighting rumors

One of the biggest challenges was overcoming disruptive rumors among some minority populations that the vaccine would harm their children.

A medical volunteer administers polio immunization drops to a child at a railway station in Allahabad, India, Jan. 13, 2014.A medical volunteer administers polio immunization drops to a child at a railway station in Allahabad, India, Jan. 13, 2014.
x
A medical volunteer administers polio immunization drops to a child at a railway station in Allahabad, India, Jan. 13, 2014.
A medical volunteer administers polio immunization drops to a child at a railway station in Allahabad, India, Jan. 13, 2014.
The campaign recruited academic, religious and community leaders, in some cases traveling house-to-house along with vaccinators, to dispel myths.

“It took some time, and some effort, but these things always do,” Cochi said. “I think that represents one of the most outstanding success stories, not only for India but for the world.”

Convincing skeptical neighborhoods also required broadening the services the campaign provided.

"Communities have more issues other than polio," said Carol Pandak, director of Rotary International's polio eradication program.

She says Rotary clubs sponsored health camps to provide vaccines for polio as well as other diseases, along with other health services.

They also enlisted thousands of community members living in polio hotspots to talk to their neighbors and make the case for vaccination.

"They could talk to their fellow community members unlike an outsider could," she added.

Related video from Rotary International-The Gates Foundation, "The Last Polio Ward in India":



Lessons learned in India are being applied in other trouble spots.

In Pakistan, for example, where several vaccinators have been killed, the campaign is enlisting prominent Muslim leaders to support the eradication effort.

Virus spread

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the last three countries where polio transmission has never stopped.

Virus from Pakistan caused an outbreak in Syria last year that claimed 17 victims. Fighting in Al-Raqa has interrupted a vaccination campaign aimed at containing the outbreak.

In a statement, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund condemned the interruption and called on “all parties to cease fighting immediately and permit completion of the life-saving polio campaign and delivery of other life-saving humanitarian interventions.”

The largest outbreak last year was in Somalia with 183 cases. The virus also spilled over and triggered outbreaks in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

You May Like

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid