India officially declared Polio-free by WHO, resulting in a global health victory
After three years of dealing with Polio’s horrific outbreak in India, the Regional Certification Commission deemed India officially free-and-clear of Polio throughout the region last Thursday. The final eradication of Polio from the Southeast region presents one of the world’s greatest global health victories yet and marks a realized goal by various worldwide efforts.
It was only five years ago that India had nearly half of the world’s reported polio cases, and was considered one of the most innately difficult places in which to eradicate the disease; due to its sanitation challenges and overly-populated regions. Officially, India’s last case was officially reported in January of 2011 on the West Bank when a young girl was paralyzed by Polio’s terrible effects. Though this disease is not yet curable, it is highly preventable with appropriate vaccinations and preventative care treatments.
With support from worldwide healthcare organizations, India launched a widespread effort which involved surveillance networks, as well as 2.3 million vaccine administrators who identified at-risk communities and provided specialized preventative care services. Parents, social mobilizers and religious leaders were included in the process, to help combat the rumors surrounding the vaccines and to increase understanding about the importance of these immunizations.
Other community support came from famous Bollywood celebrities, who openly endorsed the vaccination efforts towards eradicating Polio; famous cricket players and actors gathered together to speak out for the cause. The efforts also enlisted the help of government, U.N. agencies and philanthropic organizations.
CNN newsroom reports that, “The incidence of the disease has dropped by more than 99% since 1988. It remains endemic in three countries -- Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan -- down from more than 125 countries in 1988.”
The WHO vaccination efforts reached more than 23 million children, after the initial reporting of the outbreak in Syria last December.