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WHO takes India off polio endemic list

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 (KUNA) -- India has been taken off the list of polio endemic countries by the World Health Organisation (WHO), announced the country's Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday at the 'Polio Summit 2012' in New Delhi.
The feat is achieved after India has been polio-free for over a year now. Now, after being removed from the list, India will have to remain polio free for the next two years in order to achieve WHO's "polio-free" status.
Announcing the feat, the Indian Health Minister said that he received a letter this morning stating that the "WHO has taken India's name off the list of polio endemic countries in view of the remarkable progress that we have made during the past one year." Till now, there were only four countries (besides India) in the WHO endemic list, namely Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.
Speaking on the occasion, Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said that the real credit (for making India free of polio) goes to 2.3 million volunteers who repeatedly vaccinated children even in the most remote areas of the country. The success of the effort shows that "team-work pays," he said, adding "this gives us hope that we can finally eradicate polio not only from India but from the Earth." A contagious viral disease, polio spreads through contact with stool of the infected person (known as fecal-oral transmission). It mainly spreads in slums and remote areas infected with unhealthy living surroundings.
In order to check its spread, India undertook a stringent 'Polio Immunization Drive' way back in 1978. The door-to-door drive was carried out several times in year, giving oral polio vaccines (OPVs) to children up to the age of five years.
Supported and funded by international organizations like UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, WHO, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the 'Polio Immunization Drive' in India is often described as one of the world's biggest health programmes. (end) py.hb KUNA 251602 Feb 12NNNN