India will become a polio-free nation today, officially speaking. India celebrates the third anniversary of being polio free on January 13, the most successful public health story of the decade.There have been no polio cases detected for three years now but the threat of cross-border importation is still very real as Pakistan still records many polio cases.
WHO's declaration is a remarkable achievement for India that saw more than one lakh babies crippled every year due to polio. Until 2009, India accounted for more than half of the world's polio cases. India has mobilised 24 lakh volunteers and 1.5 lakh frontline workers in an anti-polio effort that costs the government Rs 1,000 crore annually. More than 17 crore children are immunised in each national round of polio vaccination, held 6-8 times a year.
While polio is gone, India still tops the global list for child mortality. Every year, millions of children die of diarrhoea, pneumonia and other water-borne diseases which are totally preventable.