Polio is a highly infectious viral illness that mainly affects young children. The virus can transmit from person to person which spread mainly through fecal-oral route or sometimes by contaminated water or food. Polio virus multiplies in the intestine and from there enters the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
Fever, fatigue, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and headache are some of the initial symptoms of polio. In some cases, the disease can permanently paralyze the body. As of now, there is no cure for polio. However, polio can be prevented by immunization.
Eradication of Polio in India
In India, last wild case of polio was registered on 13th January 2011. So after 3 years, on 27th March 2014, WHO officially declared India “Polio Free”. So how did India eradicate Polio successfully?
National polio Surveillance project
In the year 1997, Government of India in collaboration with WHO established the National Polio Surveillance Project (NPSP) which started with surveillance for polio and mass vaccination campaigns. Over the years the role of NPSP expanded which included routine immunization, polio-free certification and end-game strategy. This programme focused on:
- Evidence generation
- Research and immunization monitoring
- Programme strategy development
- Capacity building of government staff
- Accreditation of laboratories and
- Timely feedback to government for action at all levels
How was campaign spread?
Through banners, posters, hoarding and engaging celebrities through radio and television, mass awareness was created. These posters, banners and advertisements were also created in local languages. In order to communicate better with the people, vaccinators were also trained to enhance their communication skills. In some places, local, religious and opinion leaders were of a great help to encourage people for immunization.
Further prevention strategies
With a huge population of India as a challenge, mass vaccination campaign is ongoing and emergency preparedness is there to respond urgently to any importation. The government of India has also made polio vaccinations compulsory for people travelling to India from seven polio-affected countries to alleviate importation risks.
So, this World Polio Day, we would like to thank all the national and international parties involved in the eradication of Polio from India.