India 'to be declared polio free' after three years free of the disease

World Health Organisation to make landmark declaration next month

India is on the verge of being declared polio free after no fresh cases of the condition were reported for a third consecutive year.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), which removed India from the list of polio-endemic nations in 2012, is expected to officially announce their status as a polio-free country next month.

India's health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad hailed the news as a "monumental milestone" for the country.

"This 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," he told reporters.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that mainly affects children. It causes inflammation of motor neurons of the spinal cord and brain stem, leading to paralysis, muscular atrophy, and often deformity. Through vaccination, the disease is preventable.

It represents a remarkable achievement for India - once listed as the country with the most polio cases in the world. The number of people suffering from polio is now down to just one case, despite figures reaching as high as 150,000 in 1985.

The last child to be diagnosed with the disease in the country was four-year-old Rukhsar Khatun, who contracted polio in January 2011 when she was 18 months old. She had not been able to have vaccinations due to illness.

Her father Abdul Shah says that she leads a "normal life", but only after being given treatment by doctors in Calcutta. Now four years of age, Rukhsar cannot fully use her right leg and requires special shoes to enable her to walk.

"She can now stand on her feet and walk, but can't run. When her friends play, she remains a spectator," Shah said.

Although India is set to removed from the list of countries which are polio-endemic, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria remain on it as the virus continues to circulate throughout the three countries.

Cases were halved in Nigeria and decreased from 30 to 11 in Afghanistan, but Pakistan saw an increase from 58 in 2012 to 85 cases last year.

However, Dr Hamid Jafari, head of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at the WHO, said that news of India's medical triumph will encourage other countries to take action.

He told The Telegraph: "If it can be done in India, it can be eradicated in any conditions. For any country not to succeed it is a lack of commitment, gaps in implementation and poor quality work.

"Once India came off the list of countries with active transmission in 2012, there was no technical rationale for this not to be done [elsewhere]."

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world