On January 13, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared India polio-free for the third year in a row after another full year without a single polio case reported nationwide.
What an impressive achievement! Finally, some India news, beyond a Mars mission that Indians worldwide can take pride in.
I slam Indian bureaucracy quite a bit on this site, harping on its incessant corruption and disastrous policies for common folks. However, I also must recognize when the Indian government has a noteworthy and commendable accomplishment. This is one such instance.
This milestone came from a tremendous collaboration between NGO’s, the Indian government, the WHO, philanthropic foundations, including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and thousands of others working every day for its eradication.
It is by far India’s most successful public health project.
“This monumental milestone was possible due to unwavering political will at the highest level, commitment of adequate financial resources, technological innovation … and the tireless efforts of millions of workers including more than 23 lakh (2.3 million) vaccinators,” Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters on the historic day.
While the feat is laudable, it is a tenuous victory.
According to Mathew Varghese, a doctor, who has treated polio patients for the last 20 years, the key is not just vaccinations against the disease, but providing clean drinking water to all population segments, ensuring the bacteria cannot spread.
India’s’ bordering countries face their own polio problems, particularly Pakistan, where vaccinators have been killed recently on suspicions of being Western agents, therefore maintaining vigilance is key.
India has done a great job in the last few years remaining free of new polio cases. Let us all remain hopeful that India continues winning the war against the dreadful disease.