Via The Guardian: India marks three years since last polio case. Excerpt:
India has marked three years since its last polio case was reported, a major milestone in eradicating the disease.
The marker puts the country on course to being formally declared polio-free in March. The World Health Organisation (WHO) still needs to confirm there are no undetected cases before making the official declaration.
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.
Polio usually infects children under five when they drink contaminated water. The virus attacks the central nervous system, causing paralysis, muscular atrophy, deformation and, in some cases, death.
"India was once thought to be the most difficult country in which to achieve polio eradication," Global Polio Eradication Initiative said in a statement.
Widespread poverty, dense population, poor sanitation, high levels of migration and a weak public health system made the task of reaching out to every child under age five that much more difficult.
Despite India's success against the disease, there are many people for whom the vaccination campaigns have come too late. Polio victims are a common sight on the streets of Indian cities.
Sonu Kumar did not have access to the polio vaccine when he was struck by the disease as a 10-year-old boy.
"My parents were very poor and couldn't afford medical treatment for me," said Kumar, who is paralysed from the waist down. The 24-year-old begs outside a temple in central Delhi and uses a wheelchair to move around.