New Delhi: India has seen a major improvement in the polio situation with only 42 cases being reported in entire 2010 as against 741 in 2009.
Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said "Polio Free India" is now an achievable goal.
The last six months have seen the lowest number of polio cases during the high transmission season of any year since polio eradication efforts were started in India, he said.
"Only 42 polio cases have been detected in 2010 compared to 741 cases of polio in 2009," Azad added.
The health minister said that the number of affected districts has declined to 17 in 2010 from 56 in 2009 and 90 in 2008. Uttar Pradesh has reported 10 polio cases in 2010 as compared to 602 cases the previous year.
UP has not reported any polio case since April 2010
Azad said during a countrywide campaign starting tomorrow, around 174 million children of less than five years of age will be given polio drops.
Furthering the gains made, Azad said that the government will launch six polio campaigns in the high-risk states between March and November 2011.
"The high risk areas that will be covered include parts of UP, Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
"A rapid response task force is being constituted to plan and conduct aggressive mopping up vaccination in response to any polio virus that is detected anywhere in the country henceforth so that all chains of polio transmission are finally broken," he said.
President Pratibha Patil kicked off the campaign to be launched tomorrow by administering polio drops to seven children at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
India has introduced the Bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine in the National Immunisation Programme for the first time in January 2010.