New Delhi, Feb. 25 2012: The World Health Organisation has deleted India from its list of polio endemic countries, acknowledging the absence of any new instance of illness caused by the wild polio virus for more than a year since a child was diagnosed with the disease in Howrah in January 2011.
“This is the first time in history we’re able to put up a map like this one,” Bruce Aylward, an assistant director-general for polio in the WHO, told a conference here today. He presented a map displaying polio cases over the past year in Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China but none in India.
Indian health authorities had recorded 741 patients paralysed by the wild polio virus in 2009 and 42 patients in 2010, but have detected no new patients since January 2011.
“But the big risk is to think we’ve finished,” Aylward said. India will need to remain free of any paralysis caused by the wild polio virus for three years from the last case before it can seek WHO certification for having eradicated polio — in January 2014.
Recall that because there may be 100 cases of mild, subclinical, polio for each diagnosed case then India may have had dozens of cases of Polio last year. That's not to say that this isn't a big step in the right direction - just that surveillance and vaccination need to remain high and the presence of endemic polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan will always threaten India until those countries too can establish her immunity and eradicate this disease.
Following this vaccination success India is now looking to eradicate measles and tetanus.