New Delhi: Even as India is less than a year away from being declared polio free, experts Thursday asked for cautious administration of vaccine to keep the virus in check.
"India reported the last wild polio virus type 1 case in Howrah, West Bengal, on Jan 13, 2011. If the eradication effort is complacent now, polio could rebound quickly, potentially paralysing thousands of children a year," Deepak Kapur, chairman India National Polio Plus Committee said in a meeting here.
The committee is a volunteer body that is entrusted with spearheading the campaign for Rotary International in India.
Sunil Bahl, deputy project manager, National Polio Surveillance Programme, said the end strategies needed to be worked out.
"We have to work out the end strategies. The vaccinations have to be stopped ultimately to ensure there are no cases of vaccine related infections," she said.
Observing India's role in guising other endemic nations in the fight against Polio, Robert Scott, chairman-International Polio Plus Committee said India has set an example for other nations.
"Considering the demographics and sheer size of India, the programme implementation and dedication from all and the achievement is commendable. If India can do it for Polio, so can the others. India is a shining example and the endemic nations are looking up to it for lessons and best practices," Scott said.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a public-private partnership led by national governments and spearheaded by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) has recently presented a six-year plan, '2013-2018 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan'.
Public health experts have said: If the polio eradication campaign succeeds, the world would not only declare it the second disease to be eradicated after smallpox but it would also save billions of dollars, not to mention saving millions of children from a crippling future.
A 2010 analysis found that if polio transmission was to be stopped by 2015, the net benefit from reduced treatment costs and productivity gains would be about $40 billion to $50 billion by 2035.
Speaking at the meeting, Additional Secretary and Mission Director (National Rural Health Mission) Anuradha Gupta stressed upon the importance of routine immunisation in preventing Polio and other childhood diseases.