A short while ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared its South East Asia region is now polio free.
This good news comes in the hells of even more encouraging news from India, the world’s largest democracy.
The populous India has now been declared free of polio.
The World Health Organization formally declared India polio free after three years with no new cases.
It added the milestone means the entire South East Asian region, home to a quarter of the world’s population, is considered free of the crippling and dreaded disease.
This welcome news is a historic milestone in the global fight to eradicate the deadly virus.
Being declared polio free once was considered all but impossible in a nation hobbled by corruption, very poor sanitation and profound poverty.
Although the disease could return, eradicating it is a landmark health victory.
“This is a day that we have dreamt about,” Poonam Khetrpal Singh, a WHO official, proudly declared at a ceremony in New Delhi. “This is the day a; countries have worked for.”
Polio is a vaccine–preventable disease that has been eradicated in most countries.
But, it still causes paralysis or death in some parts of the world, including Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Children under five are now especially vulnerable to the disease, which has spread through contaminated water or food.
The virus attacks the central nervous system, causing paralysis of muscles that leave limbs stunted or withered.
India was in the middle of an intense campaign to battle the disease, with huge infusions of government funds and a new, more effective vaccine.
Other countries in the WHO South East Asian region, such as Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan have been free of the virus for more than 15 years.
The goal has been to get rid of polio from the face of the earth by 2018.
This is a lofty goal.
However, it can be achieved with a lot of vigilance and constant monitor of some danger areas.
The Americas, Western Pacific and Europe regions are already free of polio.
Eastern Mediterrean and Africa have yet to gain a similar status.
Many countries thought India would be the last country in the world to get rid of polio.
India has close to 170 million children under five who needed to be immunized.
According to Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist there are now three countries where transmission of the disease has never been halted compared to 125 countries in the late 1980s.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries still trying to battle polio.
For years now, Rotary International has joined forces with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization and the United Nations to eradicate polio from the face of the earth.
Since 1988, Rotary International and Rotarians around the world have been working to wipe out polio.
The foundation started by Gates of Microsoft and his wife Melinda has been working closely with Rotary International in the fight against polio.
The world signed up to eradicating polio in 1988.