Vigilance needed to keep India polio-free: Officials

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 20:14 hrs

New Delhi: Though no new case has been reported in the last two years, India will have to work harder and be "very vigilant" if it wants to remain off the list of polio endemic countries, health officials said Friday.

The World Health Organisation struck India off the list Feb 25, 2012, after India completed one year without any case of polio.

"We can't drop our guard and have to be very vigilant. It has taken us decades to win this war," said Anuradha Gupta, additional secretary and mission director in the health and family welfare ministry.

Gupta said that India's close proximity to polio-endemic countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan puts it at risk of virus importation. Globally since 2000, 44 countries that had been polio-free have suffered one or more importations.

"We have vaccination campaigns at the international border and inside trains as well where every child below the age of five is give the drops at the time of entrance," she said.

Deepak Kapur, Rotary India National Polio Plus Chair, one of the programme partners, said that the job must be finished in 2013.

"Polio virus threat has declined within the country but the threat of polio virus import from polio-endemic countries still looms at large. Efforts must be sustained to finish the job this year or we risk losing gains made thus far," he said.

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