News / Asia

India Reaches Polio Milestone

A boy stands next to a polio awareness poster at Meerut in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh January 28, 2009. (file photo)
A boy stands next to a polio awareness poster at Meerut in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh January 28, 2009. (file photo)

India scored a victory against polio in recent days when the World Health Organization declared that the country no longer belongs to the list of polio-endemic countries. But heath workers say they are not slowing down their efforts in the battle against the disease.

There is quiet elation among health officials in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, that not a single case of polio has been recorded since January, last year.

Despite the progress, Rakesh Vishwakarma, officer on special duty for Uttar Pradesh at WHO, said health workers still fan out every month to administer polio drops to millions of children, including those of migrant families.

“There are big migrations from different part of the country," Vishwakarma said. "They come here on construction [sites]…..and to track those child and immunize those [children].  Its a big challenge.”

After India did not report any new case for a year, the World Health Organization took it off a list of countries where polio is endemic.

But India needs to keep up its guard for another two years, because countries are only declared polio free after three straight years without an outbreak. And, it is in India’s poorest regions such as Uttar Pradesh (UP) that health officials are on their toes to prevent any new resurgence of the disease that cripples children.

The virus had rebounded, earlier. After dropping to 134 polio cases in 2004, as many as 741 new cases were reported in 2009, raising fears that the polio virus was proving to be a difficult opponent.

Lieven Desomar, chief of the polio unit at the United Nations Children's Fund, said catching “children on the move” will be critical to achieving final success.

“The issues in 2009 are still the issues we are facing today. 19 million people a day take the train in India," Desomar said. "A lot of cases which we found outside the traditional states of UP and Bihar originated from UP and Bihar through migrant populations and mobile populations. Catching and immunizing all those children, at the borders, in buses crossing state line and so forth, that has been a major challenge.”

A victory against polio in India will be of huge significance for the global fight against the disease, said the World Health Organization’s Polio Project Manager in India, Hamid Jafari.

“Until recently, India was one of the major exporters of polio virus around the world, so several countries got re-infected with the virus that originated from India. And, once India stops transmission, then an important source of polio virus that was spreading internationally will be shut off,” said Jarafi. 

Officials like Desomar at UNICEF say the success in India will reenergize the global initiative to defeat the polio virus. But he cautioned against a sense of complacency setting in during the next two years.

“Its too premature to take out the champagne. We have to keep the bottle cold. But we have two more years before we can cork it.”

Polio has been eradicated from most countries. Three polio-endemic countries remain: Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs