Three years after the country went without an endemic case of the disease; the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially certified India, world’s second most-populous country, as free of polio.
WHO’s Regional Certification Commission, while praising India and southeast Asian countries for their public health efforts, is also certifying southeast Asia as polio-free.
The commission in a statement lauded South-East Asia’s remarkable achievement in ending polio. The commission further stated that this was made possible by unprecedented commitment from governments to hold high-quality vaccination campaigns that reached a cumulative total of 7.5 billion children over 17 years, in every home from the busiest city street to the remotest rural corner, with the dedication of millions of community health workers and volunteers.
Till 2009, India was home to almost 50 per cent of the world’s polio cases – the disease which can lead to paralysis of the limbs and eventual death. Polio, once considered hard to eradicate from India due to its population and poor sanitation, has no cure.
Government of India, United Nations organizations, celebrities and religious leaders also helped to launch efforts and combat the disease.
India’s last polio case was reported in 2011 in a two-year-old girl in West Bengal.