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National Polio Immunization Drive for 2022

Context:

Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched the National Polio Immunization Drive for 2022 by administering polio drops to children below five years of age in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 

Relevance:

GS II- Health

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. About Polio National Immunization Drive and Polio National Immunization Day 2022 (NID) :
  2. What is Polio?
  3. Recent Outbreaks of Polio
  4. Polio in India
  5. India’s Pulse Polio Programme
  6. Steps taken by the Government to maintain polio free status in India

About Polio National Immunization Drive and Polio National Immunization Day 2022 (NID) :

  • The Polio National Immunization Day 2022  organized across the country on 27th February 2022. 
  • India conducts one nationwide NID and two Sub-National Immunization Day (SNIDs) for polio every year to maintain population immunity against wild poliovirus and to sustain its polio free status. 
  • During the Polio NID, Over 15 crore children will be covered across all 36 States and UTs in 735 districts.
  • During the drive, polio drops will be provided to children through 7 lakh booths across the country.
  • Approximately 23.6 crore houses will be visited by nearly 24 lakh volunteers and 1.5 lakh supervisors.
  • India has been free of polio for more than a decade, with the last case of wild poliovirus reported on 13th January 2011.
  • However, India continues to remain vigilant to prevent re-entry of the poliovirus into the country from neighboring countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where wild poliovirus continues to cause the disease.

What is Polio?

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) defines polio or poliomyelitis as “a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children.”
  • The virus is transmitted by person-to-person, spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g., contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
  • Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs.
  • In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent.
  • There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.
  • There are three individual and immunologically distinct wild poliovirus strains:
    1. Wild Poliovirus type 1 (WPV1)
    2. Wild Poliovirus type 2 (WPV2)
    3. Wild Poliovirus type 3 (WPV3)
  • Symptomatically, all three strains are identical, in that they cause irreversible paralysis or even death.
  • However, there are genetic and virological differences, which make these three strains separate viruses which must each be eradicated individually.

Recent Outbreaks of Polio

  • In 2019, polio outbreaks were recorded in the Philippines, Malaysia, Ghana, Myanmar, China, Cameroon, Indonesia and Iran, which were mostly vaccine-derived in which a rare strain of the virus genetically mutated from the strain in the vaccine.
  • Afghanistan and Pakistan are the two countries that are having the most trouble in controlling the spread of Polio effectively.
  • In 2018, a total of 8,60,000 children in Afghanistan did not receive polio vaccine due to security threats.

Polio in India

  • India received polio-free certification by the WHO in 2014, after three years of zero cases.
  • This achievement has 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 13th January 2011.

India’s Pulse Polio Programme

  • With the global initiative of eradication of polio in 1988 following World Health Assembly resolution in 1988, Pulse Polio Immunization programme was launched in India in 1995. Children in the age group of 0-5 years administered polio drops during National and Sub-national immunization rounds (in high-risk areas) every year.
  • The Pulse Polio Initiative was started with an objective of achieving hundred per cent coverage under Oral Polio Vaccine.
  • It aimed to immunize children through improved social mobilization, plan mop-up operations in areas where poliovirus has almost disappeared and maintain high level of morale among the public.

Steps taken by the Government to maintain polio free status in India

  • Maintaining community immunity through high quality National and Sub National polio rounds each year.
  • An extremely high level of vigilance through surveillance across the country for any importation or circulation of poliovirus and VDPV is being maintained.
  • All States and Union Territories in the country have developed a Rapid Response Team (RRT) to respond to any polio outbreak in the country.
  • To reduce risk of importation from neighbouring countries, international border vaccination is being provided through continuous vaccination teams (CVT) to all eligible children round the clock.
  • Government of India has issued guidelines for mandatory requirement of polio vaccination to all international travelers before their departure from India to polio affected countries namely:  Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Syria and Cameroon.

-Source: The Hindu

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