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Polio eradication is now a key global goal and will be the second disease ever to be eradicated after smallpox. Significant achievements have been made since the launch of the polio eradication initiative in 1988. The number of polio cases has fallen from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to some 6,700 reported cases in 1999 and the number of polio-endemic countries has fallen from 125 to 30. Polio has been eradicated from the Americas, Europe, the countries of the Western Pacific, much of the Middle East and disappeared from most of northern and southern Africa. Currently polio cases are concentrated in parts of Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Historically India has accounted for more than half of the world's polio cases and the challenge now in India is in eight densely populated States, in particular Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and the city of Delhi.
As part of a global campaign to eradicate the disease, billed 'Every Child Counts', a massive public health initiative to eradicate polio has been developed in India. A national immunisation day was launched on the 26 March 2000 as part of an intensified phase of the campaign in India. This year India has doubled the number of monthly national immunisation day rounds from two to four throughout the country and added in two more rounds in eight high-risk States. One billion doses of polio vaccine have been delivered to the nation's children in the last 12 months.
Currently there is a shortfall of US $300 million out of a total of US $1billion needed to achieve eradication in 2005. With the eradication of polio and the eventual cessation of polio immunisation, the world will save US $1.5 billion per year.
Further information can be obtained from the following Internet websites:
- WWW Virtual Library Public Health at: http://www.ldb.org/vl/index.htm
- WWW Virtual Library Circumpolar Peoples at: http://www.ldb.org/vl/cp/index.htm
This article was published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 24, Supplement, March 2000.
Communicable Diseases Surveillance
Communicable Diseases Intelligence