India is a ‘polio free’ nation: WHO

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polioNEW DELHI, Mar 28- India is officially declared ‘Polio Free’ by the World Health Organisation. India is one of the 11 countries in the South East Asian region which have been certified as being free of the wild polio virus.

India got this certification by the World Health Organization after going three years without an endemic case of polio.

The official certificate was received by Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad at a function. This achievement makes the South-East Asia Region, the fourth WHO Region to be certified as polio-free, after the Region of the Americas in 1994, the Western Pacific Region in 2000 and the European Region in 2002.

Ghulam Nabi Azad  spoke on this historic occasion on behalf of all South-East Asian Health Ministers and expressed happiness and satisfaction at the historic public health achievement which seemed impossible with India having the highest burden of Polio cases in the world.

He further stated that India embarked on the programme to eradicate the nation of polio 19 years ago in 1995, when the disease used to cripple more than 50,000 children in the country every year.

He stated that this achievement has been possible with resolute will at the highest levels, technological innovations like the indigenous bivalent polio vaccine, adequate domestic financial resources and close monitoring of polio programme, with which immunization levels soared to 99 percent coverage and India achieved polio eradication.

He said that this unbelievable operational feat has been possible due to the tireless efforts of over a million ASHAs and ANMs who gave a new momentum to polio rounds. A 2.3 million strong team of polio volunteers and 150, 000 supervisors worked day and night to reach every child.

The Health Minister expressed gratitude towards WHO, UNICEF , Rotary International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others stakeholders, including the parents of the children, for their strong technical and operational support to this collective effort in this region.

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