A HEALTH EMERGENCY: POLIO VIRUS
Context: Based on the risk of international spread of poliovirus, the World Health Organization announced on January 7 that polio will continue to remain a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) for three months.
- The decision was taken based on the recommendation of the emergency committee under the international health regulations that assessed the situation.
- The committee arrived at unanimous decision based on the rising risk of international spread of wild poliovirus type-1.
- Polio was declared as PHEIC in 2014 and has continued to remain one since then.
CAUSE OF CONCERN
- There were 156 cases of wild polio type-1 cases in 2019 compared with 28 in 2018.
- With 128 cases, Pakistanaccounted for the most number of cases, while Afghanistan reported 28 cases.
- Besides the four-fold increase in cases, there were instances of the wild type-1 virus getting exported from Pakistan to Iran and Afghanistan, as also on the spread from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
- In addition to the virus causing polio in children, it was found in the environment in Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan.
- This is particularly a concern as the number of children not vaccinated in Afghanistan has been increasing.
- In 2018, a total of 8, 60,000 children in Afghanistan did not receive polio vaccine due to security threats.
- The situation did not improve in 2019 and, as a result, a large cohort of children in the southern region of the country remains unprotected.
- Therefore, even other parts of the country that have been free of the virus in the past are at risk of outbreaks.
PULSE POLIO IN INDIA
- Pulse Poliois an immunization campaign established by the government of India to eliminate poliomyelitis (polio) in India by vaccinating all children under the age of five years against the polio virus.
- The project fights polio through a large-scale, pulse vaccinationprogramme and monitoring for poliomyelitis cases.
- Vellore, (Tamil Nadu) was the first Indian town to become 100% polio-free through the pulse strategy, and rest of India adopted the strategy in 1995.
- In 1985, the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) was launched to cover all the districts of the country.
- UIP became a part of child survival and safe motherhood program (CSSM) in 1992 and Reproductive and Child Health Program (RCH) in 1997.
- The number of reported cases of polio declined from thousands during 1987 to 42 in 2010.
- In 1995, following the Global Polio Eradication Initiative of the World Health Organization (1988), India launched Pulse Polio immunization program with Universal Immunization Program which aimed at 100% coverage.
- The last reported cases of wild polio in India were in West Bengal and Gujarat on 13 January 2011.
- On 27 March 2014, the World Health Organization(WHO) declared India a polio free country, since no cases of wild polio been reported in for five years.
POLIO IN THE WORLD
- A country is said to have eradicated polio when no new case of wild poliovirus is reported for three successive years.
- Three countries remain where the disease is endemic are Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria
- Nigeria is all set to be declared as having eradicated polio this year, and in turn, the entire African region will become free of wild poliovirus.
- Polio, short for poliomyelitis, or infantile paralysis, is an infectious diseasecaused by the poliovirus.
- In about 0.5 percent of cases, there is muscle weaknessresulting in an inability to move.
- This can occur over a few hours to a few days.
- The weakness most often involves the legs, but may less commonly involve the muscles of the head, neck and diaphragm.
- India having friendly relations with Afghanistan should provide human and financial assistance to its neighbor to fight the virus.
- Within India steps needs to taken to assure that the aggressive campaign against polio continues.
- People who are already affected by polio should be provided support and financial assistance.
Why is the world community not able to eradicate polio from the world? What steps India took to eradicate polio? Discuss its success. (20 marks)