Polio nearly eradicated in India: WHO

Geneva: The World Health Organization has said polio is on the verge of eradication in India, but Pakistan is still struggling to counter the disease.

WHO spokesperson for the polio programme, Oliver Rosenbauer, said the virus was not detected in sewage in India, though cases surge during his time of the year.

His comments came after experts warned that if eradication fails now, it would be "the most expensive public health failure in history".

The victory against polio owes to persistent co-ordinated vaccination drives spearheaded by local officials in affected areas, and the use of a more efficient vaccine that only targets the circulating strains.

Pakistan, which registered 145 cases this year, however, continues to be a worry as polio has already spread across the country from three strongholds, Karachi, Quetta and the north-west tribal area.

Rosenbauer said the WHO would rely on local leaders to implement its new national vaccination drive in Karachi and Quetta.

Nigeria has recorded a four-fold increase in polio cases this year and the country has re-infected three neighbouring nations, which were formerly declared polio-free.

However, polio cases have decreased by 95 percent as compared to 2009, and remain only where local leaders have not taken initiative for the cause.

"Our analysis shows the extent of local leadership correlates with viral persistence," Rosenbauer said.

Afghanistan has polio cases in the south near Pakistan since Local violence prevented vaccination leading to tripling of cases this year, to 53.



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