WHO declares Africa free of Wild Polio

WHO declares Africa free of Wild Polio

   Kautilya Academy    26-08-2020

On August 25, 2020, the World Health Organisation declared Africa polio-free. The disease is now found only in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Highlights

Nigeria is the last African country to be declared free from wild polio. More than 95% of Africa population have now been immunised. This was the major condition set by the Regional Certification Commission to declare Africa polio free.

Polio virus spreads from person to person through contaminated water. It can attack nervous system and lead to paralysis.


Current Scenario

Now, only the vaccine derived polio virus prevails in Africa. Around 177 such cases have been identified. This is a rare form of virus that mutates from the Oral Polio Vaccine. It is capable of spreading to under immunised communities.

The World Health Organisation has identified such cases in Angola, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo.


How did Africa eliminate Polio?

In 1996, around 75,000 children were affected by Polio in Africa. The same year “Kick Polio Out of Africa” was launched by Nelson Mandela. This mobilised millions of health workers in the continent increasing awareness about the vaccine. The programme was backed by international organisations such as Rotary International.


Polio in India

India was officially declared polio-free along with the rest of the South East Asian region. However, with the rising cases in Pakistan, there are dangers of the virus getting imported into India.

In December 2019, Pakistan imported polio markers from India. In order to prevent the virus to reach India, GoI has made Oral Polio Vaccine mandatory for persons travelling between polio affected countries. These include Afghanistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Kenya, Syria, Somalia, Cameroon and Kenya. However, according to WHO, polio has been eradicated in all the countries except for Pakistan and Afghanistan.


Pulse Polio Programme

This is the flagship programme of the Indian Government to eradicate Polio. It was launched in 1995 under the resolution of global initiative of polio eradication that was adopted by World Health Assembly.


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