Rotary Celebrates India's First Polio Free Year

 
Rotary club members worldwide are cautiously celebrating a major milestone in the global effort to eradicate polio. India, until recently an epicenter of the wild poliovirus, has gone one year without recording a new case of the crippling, sometimes fatal, disease.

Rotarians and state government leaders in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, vaccinate children against polio during a National Immunization Day in 2011. Photo courtesy of the India PolioPlus Committee

India’s last reported case was a two-year-old girl in West Bengal State on 13 January 2011. The country recorded 42 cases in 2010, and 741 in 2009.

A chief factor in India’s success has been the widespread use of the bivalent oral polio vaccine, which is effective against both remaining types of the poliovirus. Another has been rigorous monitoring, which has helped reduce the number of children missed by health workers during National Immunization Days to less than 1 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Rotary has been a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative since 1988, along with WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also a key supporter of the initiative.