SOCIAL GOOD: India and Polio- A Global Health Success Story

SOCIAL GOOD: India and Polio- A Global Health Success Story

Three years ago, on January 13th India proudly declared the country polio-free after an unbelievable push to rid the country of this debilitating disease. In March, the World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to officially certify India as polio-free, leaving only three countries left to rid the disease: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Since the 1988 launch of a highly effective and powerful global campaign to eradicate polio, we have seen remarkable progress: In 1988, there were 125 countries with polio and today there remain only three. India’s astounding victory has been an incredible success story that has been inspiring to watch unfold.

The almost insurmountable effort to rid the second most populous country in the world of polio has been nothing short of heroic. Countless people, non-profit organizations, governmental, and global health institutions were involved in this massive effort to ensure that every single child in India was, and continues to be immunized against polio.  Not only does India have an enormous population of children to vaccinate there are around 27 million new children born each year  – India itself is a very large country with some of the world’s most remote and hard to reach destinations. Ensuring that every child has been immunized against polio continues to be a massive feat (India employed an army of 2.5 million vaccinators who immunized over 175 million children) yet also proves that the world can eradicate polio from the planet.  If we do so, it will be only the second time in history that we have eradicated a disease in humans.

Indian school children wave at the camera during a visit to an Indian slum with Save the Children. Photo credit: Author

Indian school children wave at the camera during a visit to an Indian slum with Save the Children. Photo credit: Author


After traveling to India, I have continue to be amazed by what a massive campaign this has been, and what it all entailed.

Per End Polio Now, “Experts once considered India the most technically difficult place to end polio. As recently as 2009, India was home to nearly half the world’s polio cases.High population density, migrant populations and poor sanitation presented exceptional challenges to eliminating this crippling disease”.

Furthermore, India is home to millions of people who live in extremely remote, hard to reach villages that can take days to reach by foot. Yet despite these obstacles, the Indian government working together with Rotary International and other global health institutions accomplished what once seemed almost impossible.

Per Bill Gates recent article titled “India’s Finally Polio-Free. Here’s Why it Matters”published on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists:

“It’s one of the greatest public health accomplishments of all time, and a powerful reminder of just how important it is to continue the fight to eradicate polio worldwide”.-Bill Gates

Recent polio outbreaks in war-torn Syria have proven that highly contagious polio can still spread and if we want to wipe polio off the face of the earth, there is no more opportune moment than now. We must continue to fund vaccination programs and push the three remaining countries to continue their fight against this horrible disease. The astounding accomplishment in India proves that this is a battle that can be won and is an important reminder of how people can work together to achieve the almost impossible task of vaccinating each and every child.

Do you believe we can wipe out Polio in our lifetimes?

This is an original World Moms Blog post written by Nicole Melancon of ThirdEyeMom.

Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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