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  • 19 Apr 2022
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: Polio, Universal Immunisation Programme, WHO.

For Mains: Government Policies & Interventions, Polio, its spread, vaccine and eradication measures.

Why in News?

With the possibility of a new Covid-19 variant triggering a fresh surge in cases, the Centre has told the states to send sewage samples to all sentinel sites that currently carry out surveillance of Poliovirus.

  • Sentinel surveillance is the "monitoring of rate of occurrence of specific diseases/conditions through a voluntary network of doctors, laboratories and public health departments with a view to assess the stability or change in health levels of a population".

What is Polio?

  • About:
    • Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly viral infectious disease that affects the nervous system.
    • There are three individual and immunologically distinct wild poliovirus strains:
      • Wild Poliovirus type 1 (WPV1)
      • Wild Poliovirus type 2 (WPV2)
      • Wild Poliovirus type 3 (WPV3)
    • Symptomatically, all three strains are identical, in that they cause irreversible paralysis or even death.
    • However, there are genetic and virological differences, which make these three strains separate viruses which must each be eradicated individually.
  • Spread:
    • The virus is transmitted by person-to-person mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (for example, through contaminated water or food).
    • It largely affects children under 5 years of age. The virus multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
  • Symptoms:
    • Most people with polio do not feel sick. Some people have only minor symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, pain in the arms and legs, etc.
    • In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function (paralysis).
    • Polio can be fatal if the muscles used for breathing are paralysed or if there is an infection of the brain.
  • Prevention and Cure:
    • There is no cure, but it can be prevented through Immunisation.
  • Vaccines:
  • Recent Outbreaks:
    • In 2019, polio outbreaks were recorded in the Philippines, Malaysia, Ghana, Myanmar, China, Cameroon, Indonesia and Iran, which were mostly vaccine-derived in which a rare strain of the virus genetically mutated from the strain in the vaccine.
      • According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), if the oral vaccine-virus is excreted and allowed to circulate in an unimmunised or under-immunised population for at least 12 months, it can mutate to cause infections.
  • India & Polio:
    • India received polio-free certification by the WHO in 2014, after three years of zero cases.
      • This achievement has been spurred by the successful Pulse Polio Campaign in which all children were administered polio drops.
      • The last case due to wild poliovirus in the country was detected on 13th January 2011.

What are the Polio Eradication Measures?

  • Global:
    • Global Polio Eradication Initiative:
      • It was launched in 1988 by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), by national governments and World Health Organization (WHO). Presently, 80% of the world’s population is now living in certified polio-free regions.
        • An estimated 1.5 million childhood deaths have been prevented, through the systemic administration of vitamin A during polio immunisation activities.
    • World Polio Day:
      • It is observed every year on 24th October in order to call on countries to stay vigilant in their fight against the disease.
  • Indian:
    • Pulse Polio Programme:
      • It was started with an objective of achieving hundred percent coverage under Oral Polio Vaccine.
    • Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0:
    • Universal Immunization Programme (UIP):
      • It was launched in 1985 with the modification to ‘Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI).
      • The objectives of the Programme include: Rapidly increasing immunisation coverage, Improving the quality of services, Establishing a reliable cold chain system to the health facility level, Introducing a district-wise system for monitoring of performance, Achieving self-sufficiency in vaccine production.

Source: IE

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