India needs to guard against importation of polio virus: Anuradha Gupta
New Delhi: As India completes a second successful year without polio, a senior Health Ministry official today cautioned against the persisting threat of importation of the virus from neighbouring countries.
"We are mindful of the persisting risk on account of importation, India is now free of polio but the world is not. Our neighbouring countries are not free of the virus," Additional Secretary Anuradha Gupta told reporters here.
"We have Pakistan, where there is a drop in polio cases but they still continue to have a large number of cases. Afghanistan is plagued with the cases. In Nigeria, there has been an increase in the cases. So, clearly we are worried... There could always be an importation," she said.
India completes two years without any case of polio on January 13. The country has not reported any case after a two-year-old girl was found with the virus in Howrah district of West Bengal this day in 2011. There was also a false scare of wild polio virus case in October last.
"Fortunately, this year has passed without any polio case. There was a false scare in between but that sort of tested our preparedness," she said.
India`s proximity to polio endemic countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, the significant international population movement and the fact that it has exported polio to countries like Nepal, Tajikistan and Angola, puts the country at risk of polio virus importation.