WHO to officially declare India polio-free
Representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) will meet on 27 March 2014 to discuss officially certifying the countries of South-East Asia to be free of polio. India will thus be declared to have eradicated polio after a long struggle over three decades which started in 1985 when India reported 2 lakh cases of polio infections.
By the certification procedure of WHO, individual countries are not declared to be disease-free. It is only when the collective of countries in the geographical region have no reports of the disease for three years can they be eligible to have eradicated the disease.
India was the last country in the South-East Asian region to report a case of polio which was on 13 January 2011. In 2009, India reported nearly half the cases of new polio infections from among worldwide statistics. In two years, the country was able to cleanse itself of the tag of being polio-infected when the last case was reported in 2011. Since then, not a single new polio infection has been reported which will prompt the WHO to officially certify India and other South-East Asian countries to be polio-free.
This will be the fourth region to have officially eradicated polio after the Americas (1994), the Western Pacific (2000) and European (2002) regions have been successful.
It is a momentous day in Indian history. Polio is a disease that cripples a person for life and mostly affects children. A few drops of the vaccination have been effective in saving the lives of many people and in eradicating the disease. All future efforts to curb this and other diseases should be endorsed wholeheartedly by all sections of society.