INDIA’S FIGHT AGAINST POLIO

In past three years there were no reported case of polio in India therefore The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared India free from Polio. India’s success in eliminating wild polio viruses (WPVs) has been acclaimed globally. Since the last case on January 13, 2011 success has been sustained for years now. India’s success has silenced critics who predicted that polio itself was non-eradicable; or that polio was not eradicable in India with its low standards of sanitation and hygiene; or that wild polio viruses (WPVs) cannot be eradicated using live oral polio virus vaccine (OPV); or that polio was not worth eradicating as it was a low priority disease but with very high cost of eradication. Among developing countries, India was the worst affected with polio prior to its decline in the 1990s. But India was also the pioneer-leader in polio research – epidemiology, vaccine-prevention – and in the manufacture of both OPV and IPV. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had established, with great foresight and vision, a Polio Research in Bombay (now Mumbai), in 1949. The earliest attempt to isolate polio virus was by CG Pandit, the first Director of ICMR. He Investigated a polio outbreak in Andamans in early 1950s he inoculated monkeys with human specimens and serially passed paralysis-causing agent six times, but lost the strain subsequently, before the confirmation of viral identity. After introducing primary monkey kidney cell culture in late 1950s, EVRC isolated polio viruses easily in cell culture and confirmed by virus neutralization with antiserum.
In a vast country of more than a billion people who are culturally, economically, linguistically and socially diverse, “micro-plans” helped because they tossed up precious data about the specifications of particular places and areas that were to be covered by each vaccination team on each day of the immunization campaign, names and designations of the vaccination, supervisors and community workers assigned to the area along with the vaccine, logistics distribution plan and so on. Later, The Indian government and its polio partners realized that a new approach was needed which led to the planning of strategies to make polio vaccination more acceptable among people who had been resisting it. India’s polio campaign gathered momentum when it focused on marginalized and mobile people, and began working in earnest with religious leaders in Muslim communities to urge parents to immunize their children. Continuous vaccination were conducted at different transit locations at the state’s international border with Nepal and other important railway stations. Even health ministry officials along with Indian National Polio Surveillance Project (NPSP), said strategies that worked to handle the cases of polio were now being used to push up other routine immunization.

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