Children up to 5 years need to be protected until polio is eradicated globally, say officials

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday declared India polio-free, pointing out not a single case of wild polio had been reported from any part of the country in the past three years.

The last case was reported on January 13, 2011 when a two-year-old girl suffered polio paralysis in West Bengal’s Howrah district, he said. Till 2009, India accounted for more than half the world’s polio incidence. While 741 cases were reported in 2009, the number came down to 42 in 2010 and it was just one in 2011.

The official announcement of a polio-free nation will be made on February 11.

Mr. Azad attributed the milestone to unwavering political will at the highest levels, committing of adequate financial resources, technological innovations like bivalent vaccine and tireless efforts of millions of workers.

Officials in the Ministry point out that all children up to 5 years need to be protected against polio until it is eradicated globally. India’s National Immunisation Programme will continue to focus and reach out to the most vulnerable migrants, and unserved and marginalised population.