India faces polio threat from Pak: Minister
New Delhi: India faces the threat of importing the polio virus from Pakistan and is taking steps to prevent it, Minister of State for Health Sudip Bandyopadhyay informed the Rajya Sabha.
According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership led by national governments and spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Pakistan has recorded 173 cases so far this year.
In contrast, India has recorded only one polio case this year.
In his written reply, the minister said: "Yes, the threat of polio continues so long as there is polio virus circulation in any part of the world."
Asked whether there is a threat of import of polio from Pakistan, the minister said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that Pakistan is exporting the polio virus.
"The polio virus detected in China in 2011 is most closely related to the polio virus currently circulating in Pakistan," he added.
India has stepped up its surveillance to stop import of polio virus into the country.
"Surveillance for polio has been intensified through active case search in the health facilities in Amritsar and other nearby districts and blocks of Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat that share a common border with Pakistan," Bandyopadhyay said.
He said the focus is to vaccinate children coming to India from across the border.
Last year, Pakistan recorded 134 polio cases, while India registered 41 cases, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is also spearheaded by Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF). Its goal is to eradicate polio worldwide.