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HHS Secretary Sebelius Helps India Mark One Year Since Last Recorded Polio Case

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “administered polio vaccination drops to children in New Delhi on Friday as India marked one year since its last case of the crippling disease,” the Associated Press reports (1/13). The Hill’s “Healthwatch” reports that “[o]fficials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] say U.S. funding and experience were key to beating back the disease,” but “[t]he news comes as federal funding for global health programs now faces sharp cuts from Tea Party lawmakers and others worried about the deficit” (Pecquet, 1/12). “­Globally, the U.S. government has provided $2 billion for the polio eradication campaign, Rotary International has raised about $1 billion from its members, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $1 billion,” and the CDC “weighed in with crucial expertise,” the Washington Post writes (Denyer, 1/12).

“The anniversary today of India’s last reported polio infection marks the longest time that transmission has stopped in the country which had the most cases in the world in 2009,” according to Bloomberg (Narayan/Anis, 1/12). “If all laboratory tests return negative in January, India will follow the recent success stories of Niger and Egypt and be removed from the endemic list by the World Health Organization (WHO) by mid-February,” Agence France-Presse writes (Plowright, 1/12). “Despite the success in India, WHO officials warn against complacency,” VOA News reports, noting the disease remains endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. WHO officials “say … that as long as polio exists somewhere, it remains a threat everywhere,” the news service writes (Schlein, 1/12).