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 Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid