India has not reported any case of polio since a two-year old girl got polio paralysis on 13 January 2011 in Howrah district of West Bengal. India’s victory over polio paves the way for polio-free certification of the South East Asia region of WHO.
India overcame huge challenges, with a strong commitment that matched $ 2 billion allocation over the years to stop polio. Implementing innovative strategies, the programme reaches an incredible 99 per cent coverage in polio campaigns, ensuring every child, even in the remotest corner of the country is protected against polio.
India introduced the oral polio vaccine in 1985 in the Universal Immunisation Programme in the backdrop of over 200,000 cases of polio annually (as per estimates of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics). In 1995, the first national polio immunization campaign was held; since then two national and multiple sub-national campaigns are rolled out every year for children up to 5 years of age.
In each national polio campaign, 2.3 million lakh vaccinators, led by 155,000 upervisors, visit 209 million households to immunize 170 million children up to the age of 5 years.
To immunize children on the move, transit vaccinators are positioned at bus stands, train stations, on trains, market places and important road intersections. Nearly 10 million children are immunized by the transit teams in each polio campaign, of them 100,000 on trains.
Focusing on the migrant population, the people on the move in search of livelihood who miss polio immunization in view of their transient nature, the programme covers 70,000 brick kilns and 38,000 construction sites. Nearly 4.5 million children are immunized in the high-risk migrant settlements in each polio campaign.
Since the start of the polio campaigns in 1995, as many as 131 polio campaigns have been held in India till date, in which 12.1 billion doses of polio vaccines have been administered.