India has completed three years without polio, a landmark achievement which would pave the way for a polio-free certification from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the health ministry Monday said.
The ministry said 40,000 reporting units, including health facilities, annually report 60,000 cases of paralysis to the polio surveillance network – National Polio Surveillance Project.
Each of these cases are followed up and 120,000 stool samples collected from the patients are tested annually in the eight WHO accredited laboratories, according to a release from the health ministry.
All these samples have tested negative for polio for the last three consecutive years – strong evidence that India no longer has polio.
In addition, sewage samples collected from Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Patna and Punjab have tested negative for polio virus, corroborating India’s unprecedented victory over the disease, it said.
India has not reported any new case of polio since a two-year-old girl got polio paralysis Jan 13, 2011 in Howrah district of West Bengal.
All cases of paralysis reported to the polio surveillance network until Jan 13 this year, have tested negative for polio.
India’s victory over polio paves the way for a polio-free certification of the South East Asia region of WHO in March end.
India reported more than half of the global polio cases until 2009.
The country introduced the oral polio vaccine in 1985 in the universal immunisation programme in the backdrop of over 200,000 cases of polio annually.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad will commemorate the occasion at a special function Tuesday.
Representatives of various other partners and donors, and ambassadors of countries, which supported India’s fight against polio, are also expected to join the celebration, the release said.