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India Marking Health Achievement In Polio-Free Year But Cautious Optimism Remains Among Some Experts

“On Friday, India marks a huge public health milestone — a year since a case of polio was found in the country — a critical step in being declared polio-free and an achievement that many experts long argued was impossible,” the Globe and Mail reports (Nolen, 1/11). “The achievement gives a major morale boost to health advocates and donors who had begun to lose hope of ever defeating the stubborn disease that the world had promised to eradicate by 2000,” the Associated Press/Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes (Nessman, 1/12).

However, “[b]ecause routine vaccination rates remain below 80 percent in some states, India is at grave risk from an ‘importation’ that will reintroduce the virus — and the lesson from other countries is that this end-game phase of eradication can bring painful setbacks,” according to the Globe and Mail (1/11). Reuters notes that the WHO’s executive board next week will meet to discuss “how to reduce the risk that vaccines containing live viruses may reintroduce the disease to places only just becoming polio-free” (Kelland, 1/12).