India’s Great Polio Legacy

Posted: April 13, 2013 in Current affairs
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WSJ: “Hundreds of leading scientists are urging the world to finish the job on polio, declaring that the disease has never been closer to eradication and endorsing a new global plan to wipe it out within six years. India has proved an inspiration.

More than 400 signatories to this week’s declaration, hailing from 80 countries, believe polio eradication is achievable in large part because of the great gains India has made against the disease. Not long ago, experts said stopping polio in India was impossible, but we’ve just celebrated two years since the last case and continue to work hard to ensure that all children are vaccinated against the virus.

Polio once paralyzed hundreds of thousands of children each year without regard to national borders. Now, it is endemic in only three countries.

The Scientific Declaration endorses a new global polio eradication plan provides a fully costed, realistic roadmap how to finish off polio. It applies lessons learned from India for reaching zero polio cases while simultaneously preventing re-importation of the disease and switching to a new vaccine that wipes out even the risk of vaccine-related polio.

As the rest of the world learns from India’s success, it is worth asking what else polio lessons can teach India. The country has the highest child mortality rate in the world; 1.66 million children under five die every year from preventable diseases. Innovations developed to eliminate polio offer India unprecedented opportunities to get other life-saving vaccines and health interventions to the people that need them most.

Measles could be the next disease on the hit-list. According to The Lancet medical journal, vaccines slashed measles deaths by 74% between 2000 and 2010, from 535,300 to 139,300. But India still accounts for nearly half of measles deaths.”

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