Saturday, October 11, 2014

Polio Program in India: A Historic and Path Breaking Campaign

Poliomyelitis often called polio or infantile paralysis, is a disease caused by a the spread from person to person of the polio virus. 
Most patients suffering from polio dont have any symptoms however in about  1% of cases, the virus enters the central nervous system leading to muscle weakness and acute flaccid paralysis which most often involves the legs. The legs of the affected person are paralysed for life.
Government of India launched the Pulse Polio programme, an immunization campaign which deals with vaccinating all children under age of 5 years against polio virus,   to eradicate polio in India. The programme started in India in 1978 and the last polio case was seen in 2011. In 2012, India was removed from the list of polio endemic nations and in 2014 , India was declared polio free. This is a big feat for a developing nation like India which has a population of over 1 billion people.
The success story of polio eradication is a story of innovation,  perseverance, dedication, commitment and partnership.  This programme has been successful due to participation of both the civil society and the government.

This project deals with the ways to fight poliomyelitis through a large scale immunisation programme, co-operating with various international institutions, state governments and Non Governmental Organisations, as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, spearheaded by Rotary International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Major Success Factors are:
1. Strong, political and financial commitments
2. Meticulous planning, execution and monitoring
3. Generation of high quality data and objective evidence
4. Ongoing tactical and scientific innovations based on data analysis and research
5. Perseverance and resilience to overcome the range of challenges
6. Strong, enduring, effective partnership.

The programme required detailed microlevel planning such as house to house vaccination, tools to collect data child vaccination of every household ,putting a mark on every vaccinated childs finger in  order to identify unvaccinated children, putting a mark on every house in which children remain unvaccinated. In a population of over one billion people this was a tedious task but through combined efforts it was accomplished.

Two major challenges which have been seen and tackled during the programme are (1) failure to vaccinate (2) vaccine failure

The first challenge i.e., failure to vaccinate was tackled by massive human resource development for community mobilizations, reaching out to community leaders etc.

For example, the Kosi river belt in India is an area which constantly experiences heavy floods thereby making the area inaccessible. Thus it was a challenge to eliminate polio from this area and 10-15%  children were always missed during campaigns. This area was identified during surveillance programmes and a multipronged approached was taken to achieve high coverage in this area.

The second challenge i.e., vaccine failure was tackled by observing response to the three available vaccines i.e., monovalent, bivalent and trivalent. On realising that bivalent vaccine was most effective, this vaccine was used to achieve high elimination rates.

Many such road blocks were tackled effectively and timely to make india completely polio free. The last case of a polio patient a young girl called Ruksana was seen in 2011. Since 2011, no news cases have been detected however surveillance continues as unless polio is eradicated around the world , possibility of eliminating the virus from India completely is  distant possibility.

The success story of polio programme in India sets an example for the other countries which have not been able to root out polio completely. It is a testament that much can be achieved by concerted efforts of both thd civil society and thd government.


Louise Banta said...

This is a very inspiring post for other countries who maybe experiencing polio too or other kinds of diseases like for example the current and very threatening Ebola virus.

It is very important how the group of people responsible in maintaining the safety of the citizens know what to do and how to react to certain failures. They must be able to know what went wrong to address a solution.

Again, very inspiring post.

Aisha Kristine Chong said...

This is such an insightful read - most people won't even be aware of it.

John Benliro said...

Your program's advocacy of helping the citizens is superb. I don't have words to say other than... Great Job in its highest sense.

Tiffany Yong W.T. said...

It's a informative post, but the purpose of the article is to...? Not really sure but hopefully it will influence or change someone's mindset, somehow~

Loudthinkin said...

Tiffany, I wrote about this because I feel it's a mind blowing success story and it highlights that if the government and civil society work together and planning is done to the microlevel then nothing is impossible. The same model can be used to eradicate other diseases or any other community problem for that matter but whag will be important in all of this will be that every individual participating will have to take responsibility to make the campaign a success

Jeni G said...

Indeed very insightful. I wish more organizations would cater to noble advocacies like this to India which is greatly needing this kind of services. Thumbs up to Indian government and participating NGOs!

Off the topic: Just an observation, hope you don't mind-I really find it hard to read the fonts in black.

JeniG of Kalikotpepot

Jeni G said...

Indeed very insightful. I wish more organizations would cater to noble advocacies like this to India which is greatly needing this kind of services. Thumbs up to Indian government and participating NGOs!

Off the topic: Just an observation, hope you don't mind-I really find it hard to read the fonts in black.

JeniG of Kalikotpepot

Suzanne said...

Wow, congrats to India! That is impressive news and wonderful to hear. Coming from a country where polio has not been a concern for a very long time I am not sure how it would affect a culture, but I know it could not be good. I am sure that many citizens of India are breathing a sigh of relief now.

Franc said...

That's great news for India. It really takes great political will and people's cooperation to eradicate polio through vaccination.

Karen said...

Polio is also a problem here in Philippines but the government is exerting efforts to control the spread and help those who suffer from polio

Anonymous said...

From what I have heard from the news, Polio is a very dangerous disease that strikes mostly young people and teenagers and it has lethal consequences in most cases which is a really worrying fact. Such a campaign is strongly needed in schools and wherever possible.

SlickMaster said...

Nice to know the government right there is doing a very great job when it comes on the welfare of their constituents, considering health is literally a nation's wealth.

This news deserved more recognition in the international mainstream news.

Nicol said...

wow, its nice to know that something had worked with perseverance. it all works out in the end

Phylicia Marie Pineda said...

I think my country is actually close to your country's situation, except I think we have better mnagement with the free vaccination campaigns. I really do think you'll be able to start a movement by starting with the community

Kylie wenn said...

Interesting.. I didn't know about this until I read your post... Very insightful!~