World Health Assembly hopes India will eradicate P1 poliovirus first

May 26th, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Anbumani Ramadoss
By Prashant K. Nanda
New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) The World Health Assembly (WHA) at Geneva hopes that India will be the first polio-endemic country to eradicate the most virulent P1 virus that leads to the disease and has asked the country to continue large-scale vaccination campaigns. “India, Afghanistan and Pakistan should implement large-scale mop-up vaccination campaigns to interrupt their final chains of poliovirus transmission, given the very low levels of P1 in these countries,” a resolution adopted at the 61st WHA said last week.

An Indian delegate who attended the assembly said World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Margaret Chan has urged endemic countries like India, Pakistan and Nigeria to eradicate polio once and for all.

“Tremendous efforts are being undertaken, often under very challenging conditions. We must finish the job. We are too close to allow this success to slip through our fingers,” said the official quoting Chan.

Encouraging India to keep up the intensity of the fight against P1, the international delegates at the WHA said in the resolution that with consistent and targeted attention in the next few months, “India could be the first of the remaining endemic countries to stop P1″.

Though India is still the number one country in terms of polio prevalence, it has progressed well to contain the virulent P1 virus that paralyses five times more children than the P3 virus does.

A WHO official attending the assembly said that P1 cases in India are down from 646 in 2006 to 80 in 2007. This year, only four cases of it have been reported from India so far.

The official said Uttar Pradesh, which was the epicentre of polio in south Asia, has made substantial progress as the state has not reported any P1 case this year.

In 2007, India reported over 870 polio cases. In the first five months of this year, over 230 cases have been reported in the country of which Bihar accounts for over 75 percent.

However, barring four cases, all cases reported this year are P3 viruses.

From India, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss and Health Secretary Naresh Dayal were among those attended the WHA.

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