Overcrowding, Poor Sanitation Barriers to India's Anti-Polio Drive

Armen Hareyan's picture


The failure to eradicate polio in India and a few other countries has stalled international efforts to eliminate the paralyzing childhood disease globally. Now, a new study explains why the virus persists in India, despite massive immunization efforts.

Polio was supposed to have been erased everywhere six years ago. 2000 was the target year set by governments at the World Health Assembly in 1988, a time when the virus was paralyzing more than 1,000 children a day.


But six years past the 2000 target, polio remains unconquered. Some experts have suggested that eradication may not be achievable and that control might be a more realistic goal.

To be sure, much progress has been made. Most of the world is polio-free. But an expert on infectious disease distribution at Imperial College London, Nicholas Grassly, points out that the virus remains tenacious in India and three other countries.

"In 2005, there were less than 2,000d cases of paralysis for the whole year and all but four countries had stopped polio transmission at some point," he said.