nation had to overcome tremendous challenges to get here – not least of them, a huge population, the logistics of covering a vast geographical area, poor sanitation and infrastructure, resistance among some groups of people to taking the vaccine, and children of migrant communities who were difficult to cover.
Expanded Immunisation Programme in the late 1970s
1985, it became a part of the Universal Immunisation Programme launched
National Pulse Polio Initiative (PPI) in 1995-96, targeting coverage of every child under five in the country with the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) to be given on two National Immunisation Days, one each in December and January
PPI set for the nation a new target — eradication of polio by 2005.
involved better social mobilisation through involvement of millions of frontline workers from the private health sector, members of Rotary International, volunteers, anganwadi workers, besides the massive public health workforce
PPI created systems – cold chains for storage and transportation of the vaccines, ensuring vaccine vial monitors on each vial, follow up and mop up campaigns to track children left out during immunisation days.
In each PPI, 24 lakh vaccinators visit over 20 crore households to ensure that nearly 17.2 crore children, less than five years, are immunised with the OPV
Pockets of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were still endemic
government targeted 107 ‘high risk' blocks in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and identified the challenges, which included remote locations, refusal of vaccine in some areas, and migrating populations.
‘Influencers', including religious leaders, were enlisted and tracked for each high risk area, and this helped polio teams reach more families.
UP and Bihar have not reported any case of polio since April 2010, and September 2010, respectively.
t there was no room for complacency, with the nation having to maintain its zero-cases record for the next three years to be able to totally ‘eradicate' poliomyelitis.
greatest concern is the possibility of infections carried across borders by migrating populations
Pakistan and Afghanistan both saw alarming increases in polio cases, and poliovirus from Pakistan re-infected China (which had been polio-free since 1999)
In Africa, active polio transmission continues in Nigeria, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with outbreaks in West and Central Africa in the past 12 months