Indian leaders are set to celebrate the eradication of polio, marking one of the country’s biggest public health success stories which was once thought impossible to achieve.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as the health minister and the head of the World Health Organisation are all due at a New Delhi stadium to celebrate India’s victory over polio.
India, long one of the biggest sources of the paralysing virus, has gone three years without a new case, which means it will soon be certified as having wiped out the scourge.
On the three-year anniversary of the last case, on January 13, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad hailed the “monumental milestone” and promised a celebration in honour of the officials, volunteers, NGOs and UN agencies which made it possible.
Polio is a virus spread through faecal matter that affects the central nervous system and can leave its victims with withered limbs or paralysis. There is no cure but it can be prevented through mass vaccination programmes.
India’s poor sanitation, mass internal migration and dilapidated public health system made experts once fear it would be the last country to eradicate the disease.
Tuesday’s celebration in New Delhi will be held in the Talkatora indoor stadium at 05:00 pm.