Rosy scene of Polio eradication in India

October 24: Today is World Polio Day. Today marks the duration of India being polio-free since three consecutive years. It is, indeed, a historic day for our country!

In India, the oral polio vaccine was introduced in 1985 in the Universal Immunization Program at a time when India was reporting almost 200,000 cases of polio annually (as per estimates of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics). However, with the introduction of Pulse Polio Program in 1995, the scenario started changing quickly. But, polio continued to trick us. Until the year 2009, almost fifty percent of the reported case globally were from India. Therefore, looking at the chronology of the polio disease, Pulse Polio program is a truly a success story that we can take pride in.

But, we must not sit on laurels! Continued surveillance is the key. Prevention of the disease with oral polio drops in pulses (that is, Pulse Polio program) must continue nationwide. This is also the right time to introduce injectable pulse polio vaccine (killed vaccine, also called Salk vaccine). The latter is the norm where polio is not prevalent. The killed vaccine is easy to store and the biggest advantage is that it does not cause vaccine-induced paralytic polio disease. With the oral vaccine (which is a live vaccine), the polio disease can actually happen- as an adverse effect- though it is extremely rare.

Polio continues to be a fixture in our neighboring countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This can upset our apples’ cart. Thus, there is also need to continue efforts, collaboration with world health agencies so that we see the end of Polio from the earth. Remember, polio is 100 % eradicable disease. It is doable.