Since 1999, ADRA has been part of the effort to help eradicate polio from the most vulnerable sectors in India. This journey started when thousands of parents said ‘NO’ to the polio vaccinators. To increase the acceptance of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) among communities, ADRA India deployed more than 300 Community Mobilisation Coordinators (CMC) in the various parts of the country. However, the journey of polio eradication in India hasn’t been easy.
India reported more than half the global polio cases until the year 2009. Experts always predicted that India would be the last to stop polio as its endemic pockets in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were among the most difficult places in the world for polio eradication. But political commitment at the central, state and local levels, along with strong partnerships at every level helped identify and address challenges quickly and effectively.
CMCs went forth to present the importance of health services and care along with government health workers actually going door-to-door to ensure that no child was missed. Intensified efforts strengthened Routine Immunisation (RI) Coverage. Focused strategies addressed poor sanitary conditions of 107 high-risk blocks (from where 80% of the Wild Poliovirus cases had been reported since 2003). Also, a system to track newborn babies, developed by the social mobilisation network, helped to reach every newborn baby with the vaccine. All these efforts successfully broke the transmission of wild poliovirus and finally, India attained the status of ‘Polio Free Country’!
History was made on March 27, 2014 when WHO (World Health Organization) officially declared India a polio free country. At present, the major threat for the country is importation of poliovirus from neighbouring countries. Hence, ADRA India as part of the CORE Group Polio Project is focusing on strengthening RI coverage, focusing maximum OPV coverage amongst the under-5 children of the migrant families as well as strengthening surveillance in cross-border areas through various interventions in the 15 high-risk blocks of Baghpat, Bareilly and Rampur, and districts of western Uttar Pradesh State.