India’s war on polio shows that everything is possible, all that is required is the right approach at the right time. Looking back at the statistics, India had more than 200,000 cases of polio reported in 1988. Now that number has considerably decreased or almost vanished to no polio cases in the last two years. This significant turnaround has been brought in place in the last two decades with considerable effort from citizens, the Indian government, NGOs and philanthropists like Bill Gates.
According to The New York Times, in the five days spanning January 20 to 25, the Indian government administered polio vaccines to an estimated 172 million children, as part of its ongoing effort to eliminate the disease from the country. In 1988, India had as many as 200,000 new polio cases being reported every year. In 2009, after two decades of vaccinations, it accounted for 741 infections, nearly half the world’s total. Last month, however, India marked two years without a single new polio infection.
The polio drive is usually carried all over India by more than 2 million specialists. The teams are deployed and are given instruction to go door-to-door and to every school. A special mark is left on the child for the easy identification by subsequent vaccination specialists. Thankfully, this project shows no sign of mismanagement and all the work is strictly monitored, leading to effective and tangible change. Parents have been, at times, reluctant to have their children vaccinated at roadside vaccination set-ups, as they are not aware of the disease. Special counseling is given to them and the consequences of the disease are shown to parents through pictures and videos. These makeshift vaccination clinics have helped immunise hundreds of thousands of children.
This is the perfect example where we can see public support and correct governance standing together to fight one big problem. If this is possible, then all every other problem that India faces on the road to development can also be resolved.
Author: Ajay Pal Singh Chabba/ RESET editorial