Ending Polio in India

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Posted on 1/16/2014
Vaccination programs across India have helped halt the spread of polio.
Vaccination programs across India have helped halt the spread of polio.

Despite the fact that polio can be prevented by a vaccine, the disease remains prevalent in some countries, including Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Commonly transmitted by unclean drinking water, polio poses a significant risk to children under the age of 5, particularly in areas where access to clean drinking water is poor. In the past, India has struggled to fight polio, but according to recent reports, India is now closer to being declared "polio free" after three years of no reported cases nationwide.

Concerted Efforts

During the past three years, the Indian government has taken great strides to accomplish its goal of eradicating polio. The last known case, involving an 18-month-old baby from Howrah, near the eastern city of Kolkata, was reported in January 2011. Since then, the Indian government and public health advocates have reaped success from their tireless efforts to end polio in the country, proving that dedicated prevention efforts combined with public health policy can have a substantial impact.

India first took steps to halt the spread of polio with a nationwide vaccination program in the mid-1990s. More than 2.4 million volunteers and 150,000 community workers participated in the PolioPlus immunization campaign, which cost the government approximately $160 million. PolioPlus aimed to provide free vaccinations to all children, and the program immunizes more than 170 million children annually.

Although the Indian government and public health organizations faced numerous challenges in eradicating polio, such as high population density and national birthrate, poor sanitation in many areas and widespread cases of diarrhea, the national commitment to ending polio in India has yielded real results.

"Despite these obstacles, India proved to the world how to conquer this disease," Nicole Deutsch, head of polio operations in India for UNICEF, told the BBC. "Through the strong commitment of the government, seamless partnership comprising the government, Rotary clubs, WHO and UNICEF, and above all the tireless hard work of millions of front-line workers — vaccinators, social mobilizers and community and health workers — who continue to implement innovative strategies to rid India of polio."

A Healthier Future

ChildFund has worked in India since 1951, and since beginning operations in the country, we have seen India go through tremendous social and political change. Our early childhood development and child sponsorship programs have helped thousands of families, and preventive health care is one area in which we have helped make a difference.

More than 1.6 million Indian children and their families benefit from ChildFund's programs across the country. Almost three-quarters of the families we help live below the poverty line. We support early childhood development centers that provide mothers with information about immunization, pre- and post-natal care, breastfeeding, sanitation and hygiene, and integrated management of childhood illnesses.

We could not help as many families without your support. Becoming a child sponsor is one of the most effective ways you can help ChildFund fight child poverty and bring hope to India's poorest communities. Just $28 per month will allow us to provide nutritious food, clean drinking water and lifesaving medications to children and their families, reducing the risk of childhood mortality and giving children the chance to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Please consider sponsoring a child today and help us bring hope to India.