India has a reason to smile. On Monday, it completes three years without reporting any case of polio. It is only the second time in the history that a disease is being eliminated in India through immunisation after small pox in May 1980.
However, officially the World Health Organisation (WHO) will certify India as polio-free on February 11 after the last of random samples picked up would be tested. India’s being declared polio-free is particularly important because it was the only country in the South East Asian region with polio cases.
Once India is declared polio-free, the entire WHO region would also become polio free. The WHO on February 24, 2012 removed India from the list of countries with active endemic wild polio transmission.
India carried a large burden of polio disease but has made impressive progress in the past 35 months. The number of polio cases came down from 741 in 2009 to 42 in 2010 and just one in 2011 – from West Bengal. No polio case has been reported in the country since then.
India won the war against polio through intense Pulse Polio Immunisation under the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988 under which over 17 crore children were vaccinated in each round of vaccination with the help of 24 lakh vaccinators.