New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) last week removed India from the list of countries plagued by the dreaded polio disease after it was recorded that no new cases were registered in the last one year.
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said this proves a big milestone in India’s battle against the scourge. He said if India can pass another two years without any new cases of polio, the nation will be declared ‘totally polio free’.
With India removed from the ‘polio list’, the global effort to eradicate the crippling disease reached a major milestone. Now only three nations- Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan – continue to combat endemic polio.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh praised some 230,000 volunteers who traveled across India to vaccinate children and said India’s success against polio shows that teamwork pays.
“This gives us hope that we can finally eradicate polio not only from India but from the face of the entire mother Earth,” he said at a New Delhi conference on polio Saturday.
He said more work was needed to ensure every Indian child “has equal access to the best immunization” as well as to other factors for warding off disease including better sanitation, education, safe drinking water and nutritious food. “We need to educate our children and our mothers on the importance of hygiene and nutrition to overall good health and longevity,” Singh said.
India’s success in fighting polio has been credited to a partnership between the government, the WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International, whose members have contributed more than $1 billion to the global eradication effort.