The polio-free certification given by the World Health Organization to its South-East Asia region (Editorial, March 31) is a historic public health achievement which, a decade ago, would have been thought of as an impossibility considering that India had almost 50,000 children affected every year when the government started its mission in 1995. Nineteen years ago India had the highest number of polio cases in the world. So when India is now polio-free, it means a quarter of the world’s population is also polio-free. Isn’t this an even bigger news story?
The gains of the polio-free status will be neutralised if neighbouring countries do not implement vaccination programmes with the same ardour as India has done. Bacterial and viral organisms are not restrained by international borders. It also meansIndia must be on guard at all times.
India’s success has silenced critics who predicted that polio would remain prevalent given the low overall standards of sanitation and hygiene. Undeniably, WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and all the government agencies concerned must be complimented for their untiring efforts. The need of the hour is to maintain vigilance. The occasion should also be the moment when efforts made by Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin to ensure a polio-free world should be gratefully recalled.
V. Siva Anantha Krishnan,
Nanguneri, Tamil Nadu
Keywords: World Health Organisation, India polio-free certification, polio immunisation, polio free India, pulse polio immunisation campaign, WHO, polio eradication, polio vaccination, wild poliovirus, poliomyelitis, oral polio vaccine