M A I N   N E W S

Jalandhar, Mewat in polio high-risk zone
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, October 24
Amid efforts to attain WHO’s polio-free certification, India has identified around four lakh settlements that are at high risk of polio virus transmission.

These settlements mainly comprise migrant clusters at construction sites, nomad settlements, brick kilns and slum habitations. Location of these sites includes Kosi in Central Bihar, Western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and other metros.

Mewat in Haryana and Jalandhar in Punjab are also in the high-risk zone. “Mewat has very low immunisation level (less than 40 per cent) in the community. Jalandhar is at risk due to migrant concentration in unorganised, small-scale factories,” Health Ministry sources said. October 24 is World Polio Day. Intensive surveillance in these settlements would determine India’s success towards polio eradication after it secured WHO’s approval for removal from the list of polio endemic countries in February.

Now only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria remain on that list. India may not be a threat for exportation of wild polio virus now, but it remains at the risk of importation being surrounded by two polio endemic nations.

“To check importation of virus, we have set up polio booths on borders with Pakistan. We must also maintain the highest level of polio surveillance. Vulnerable settlements will be targeted to build the immunity of children.

Polio campaigns and immunisation rounds will have to be done to avoid the risk of polio virus importation. Maintaining the current level of immunity in the community is a must,” ministry officials said.

India’s success is critical to the success of South East Asian Region (SEARO) so far as polio eradication goes. This region has 11 countries of which India remains to be declared polio-free by the WHO. Sri Lanka was the last in SEARO to eradicate polio in 1992. Since WHO’s polio-free certification is regional and not national, the entire SEARO is awaiting India’s polio eradication to get its WHO polio-free certification.

Any country to be termed polio-free must report three consecutive polio-free years. The deadline for India is in 2014. The country reported the last wild polio virus type 1 case in Howrah, West Bengal, on January 13, 2011.

Out of the three wild polio viruses, the less infectious - wild polio virus 2 was eradicated from the world with India’s Aligarh (UP) reporting the last case in October 1999. The last case of wild polio virus 3 was reported from India in October 2010 in Pakur (Jharkhand). The challenge is to prevent wild polio virus 1 (the most dangerous) the transmission of which resulted in 95 per cent of polio cases in India until 2006. The incidence has dropped since then.

The good news is that Uttar Pradesh, the epicentre of most polio outbreaks in India, hasn’t reported any WPV 1 since November 2009. Both UP and Bihar, polio-endemic states, have remained polio-free for over a year.


  • 1985: 1.5 lakh polio cases
  • 1988: WHO launches global polio-eradication initiative
  • 1995: India launches Pulse Polio Programme to administer oral polio drops to kids under 5
  • Polio cases came down to 6,028 in 1991; 741 in 2009; 42 in 2010 and 1 (last case) in 2011
  • 2011: WHO removes India from the list of polio-endemic nations
  • If India remains polio-free till 2014, it will enable South East Asia Region to get WHO polio-free certificate





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |