News / Asia

India Reports No Polio Cases for One Year

A child receives polio drops at a polio booth in the central Indian city of Bhopal, India, December 2008. (file photo)
A child receives polio drops at a polio booth in the central Indian city of Bhopal, India, December 2008. (file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization reports that for the first time in history, India has been without a single case of polio for one year. WHO says this momentous achievement boosts its global campaign to wipe polio off the face of the earth.

WHO says an entire year has passed in which no child in India has been paralyzed by polio. The last case recorded was that of a two-year-old girl in the state of West Bengal on January 13, 2011.

WHO calls this achievement particularly significant, as India always has been considered the toughest place on earth to stop the polio virus.  This is due to a combination of factors, including a poor health system and a large migrant community, compounded by high population density and poor sanitation.

Sona Bari is external relations officer for WHO’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative. She welcomed this milestone, but noted it is not the end of the road for India. Rather, she said, it is the start of a process.

“The next few weeks will be nail-biting weeks as we wait for the data on the last 12 months to come in. Every stool sample from a suspected case of polio, every sewage sample will have to test negative," said Bari. "But, when that happens, India will no longer be considered polio endemic. And, this map that the WHO puts out every month will have India un-shaded for the first time in history.”

Bari explained that India will be considered polio-free if no case of polio is detected in the next six weeks. After that, if no cases of polio are found in India for three years, she noted the whole WHO region of South-East Asia will be certified polio-free, providing an important push for the end of polio.  

When WHO launched its Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, 350,000 children every year were paralyzed or killed by this crippling disease. That number fell to 620 cases reported in 16 countries in 2011.

Now that India has stopped the transmission of the wild poliovirus, only three polio endemic countries remain - Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  

Bari said the political and civil instability in these countries are posing enormous challenges for polio eradication.  

“Pakistan and Nigeria in particular are on a precipice and it is an emergency right now to stop polio there. The governments are extremely conscious of this. But, as you just pointed out, they have a lot on their plate right now," said Bari. "Cases are rising in both those countries.  In Afghanistan, cases have spread outside of the southern regions or the southern part of the country. So all three are a cause for concern.”  

On a more optimistic note, Bari said India’s success in stopping polio transmission frees up resources that now can be spent on polio- eradication measures in the three remaining endemic countries.

WHO reports an alarming increase in the number of polio cases in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2011, with Pakistan recording 192 cases and Afghanistan 76 cases. And, it notes poliovirus from Pakistan re-infected China, which had been polio-free since 1999.

In Africa, WHO says active polio transmission continues in Nigeria, which had 52 cases last year, in Chad and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Outbreaks in West and Central Africa also occurred in the past 12 months.

Despite the success in India, WHO officials warn against complacency. They say the spread of polio in Africa shows that as long as polio exists somewhere, it remains a threat everywhere.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid