Five years of certified polio free India! How the country achieved this feat

By: |
New Delhi | March 30, 2019 3:45 PM

Polio is a highly infectious and a fatal disease that has permanently paralyzing effect, especially when it afflicts children.

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There is no doubt that vaccinations save lives and keep citizens healthy. This year, India celebrates 5 years of certified polio-free, sending out a strong signal that the nation’s polio surveillance programme is exemplary. The government’s Principal Scientific Adviser took to Twitter to share this good news on the micro-blogging platform. Until 2009, India had accounted for over half the world’s polio cases. After the last polio case reported in India during the year 2011, the World Health Organisation South East Asia region has consistently been reiterating and maintaining a polio-free status, conveying that the region is on track in terms of polio-free certification. According to the current regulations, no single or specific country can be individually certified to be polio-free, which is why the WHO region gets a certification as a whole and maintains the importance of all individual nations ensuring through stringent measures that no new transmission of the poliovirus occurs.

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So, what exactly is the polio eradication criteria?

When no cases of polio have been detected for over a year, a country is known to be polio-free. Still, there are incidents worldwide where a particular strain of poliovirus resurfaced even after the country was recognized as polio-free. This had happened in Nigeria, where a strain of virus was detected again after five long years in 2016.

Polio is a highly infectious and a fatal disease that has permanently paralyzing effect, especially when it afflicts children. It is so deadly that it can trigger paralysis in a matter of hours, not days! Once the virus enters the human body, the initial symptoms lead to fatigue, headache, vomiting, fever, and pain in and around the limbs.

The first polio vaccine came into use in the year 1955 and was developed by Jonas Salk, who was an American medical researcher. Later, Albert Sabin is known to have developed the first oral polio vaccine that eventually came into the popular commercial year in the year 1961.

Doctors in India regularly sensitize parents of newborn babies to ensure that they are vaccinated from infancy till six years of age with all doses of vaccination, be it orally or through injection. From the rural to the urban areas, hospitals are mandated to ensure that polio vaccinations are taken on time. Public awareness campaigns through celebrities are also conducted through national television channels to create awareness about the importance of polio vaccination.

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