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‘World Polio Day 2020, Where does India stand?’

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    2nd Nov, 2020

October 24 is observed as World Polio Day every year in order to call on countries to stay vigilant in their fight against the disease.

Context

October 24 is observed as World Polio Day every year in order to call on countries to stay vigilant in their fight against the disease.

About

What is Polio?

  • Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus.
  • The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body).
  • Transmission: Poliovirus is very contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact. It lives in an infected person’s throat and intestines.

World Polio Day

  • World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop the vaccine against the disease.
  • In the last three decades, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), led by national governments and the WHO, has been monitoring the disease situation globally.

What are the symptoms?

  • Most people who get infected with poliovirus (about 72 out of 100) will not have any visible symptoms. About 1 out of 4 people with poliovirus infection will have flu-like symptoms that may include:
    • Sore throat
    • Fever
    • Tiredness
    • Nausea
    • Headache
    • Stomach pain
  • These symptoms usually last 2 to 5 days, then go away on their own.
  • A smaller proportion of people with poliovirus infection will develop other, more serious symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord:
    • Paresthesia (feeling of pins and needles in the legs)
    • Meningitis(infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain) occurs in about 1 out of 25 people with poliovirus infection
    • Paralysis(can’t move parts of the body) or weakness in the arms, legs, or both, occurs in about 1 out of 200 people with poliovirus infection
      • Paralysis is the most severe symptom associated with polio, because it can lead to permanent disability and death.
      • Between 2 and 10 out of 100 people who have paralysis from poliovirus infection die, because the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe.
    • Even children who seem to fully recover can develop new muscle pain, weakness, or paralysis as adults, 15 to 40 years later. This is called post-polio syndrome.

Prevention & Treatment

There are two types of vaccine that can prevent polio:

  • Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) given as an injection in the leg or arm, depending on the patient’s age. Only IPV has been used in the United States since 2000.
  • Oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) is still used throughout much of the world.

The current status of the disease

  • As per the WHO, since 1980, the cases of wild poliovirus have decreased by over 99.9 per cent as a result of vaccination efforts made around the world.
  • In 2019, polio outbreaks were recorded in the Philippines, Malaysia, Ghana, Myanmar, China, Cameroon, Indonesia and Iran, which were mostly vaccine-derived (a rare strain of the virus genetically mutated from the strain in the vaccine. According to the WHO, if the oral vaccine-virus is excreted and allowed to circulate in an un- or under-immunised population for at least 12 months, it can mutate to cause infections).
  • As per the CDC, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the two countries that are the last stronghold of the wild poliovirus.
  • In Pakistan, the number of reported wild poliovirus cases has increased in 2020.
  • On the other hand, on August 25, the African Region was certified as wild poliovirus free.
  • As per the CDC, as of October 7, there were more than 440 cases of poliovirus around the world, as compared with 378 and 71 cases globally in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Where does India stand?

  • India was declared polio-free in January 2014, after three years of zero cases, an achievement widely believed to have been spurred by the successful pulse polio campaign in which all children were administered polio drops.
  • The last case due to wild poliovirus in the country was detected on January 13, 2011.

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