India

A year without polio in India

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If all pending samples are negative in the coming weeks

This week marks a year in which no child was paralysed in India by wild poliovirus, for the first time in history. If all pending laboratory investigations return negative, in the coming weeks India will officially be deemed to have stopped transmission of indigenous wild poliovirus (WPV). The number of polio-endemic countries, those which have never stopped indigenous WPV transmission, will then be reduced to a historical low of three: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

India was once recognized as the world’s epicentre of polio. As recently as 2009, India had the highest burden of polio cases in the world (741), more than the three other endemic countries combined. Due to extraordinary measures to reach children with vaccine, India has not seen a case since a 2-year-old girl in the state of West Bengal developed paralysis on 13 January 2011.

The greatest risk in India is now complacency. The country has an aggressive agenda to strengthen routine immunization and maintain supplementary activities in order to maintain high immunity. In addition, sensitive surveillance and emergency response plans are in place in every state to detect and swiftly respond to importations until eradication is achieved globally.