Look Maa, No more Polio

Posted on March 4, 2012 in Health and Life

By Dr Bhavna Mittal:

Good Morning India! Forget the unsatisfactory economic growth in the last quarter or even the maladies of the mighty Mallya; kindly ignore the bickering Men in Blue for a while because where they failed the Men in Yellow and proved a point. It may be difficult to work towards the eradication of a disease in a culturally diverse and densely populated country like ours but it isn’t entirely impossible.

We are no longer part of the shame list of polio-endemic countries. Give us another two years and if we continue to work with this fervour it’ll be bye bye Polio forever. Every child deserves to be born into a polio free world and it feels good to think that this can be a possibility for the Indian under five- a segment of our population that struggles for everyday survival. Hopefully in the years to come pictures of little children disabled by polio will be something of a dreadful past.

This feat is encouraging and humbling in so many ways. Our country is over-crowded and sanitation in general is so deplorable that it’s really amazing that we have been able to keep in check a virus that spreads mainly via the feco-oral route. It has taken us years to get here-way longer than most countries; there were instances when the future seemed bleak like the time when my home town Moradabad seemed to be becoming more famous for exporting polio rather than brassware; immunization began to be considered not a life saving but a mass sterilization drive; more houses had Xs rather than Ps on them but despite everything the pulse polio campaign thrived. We owe the Rotary International, the UNICEF, WHO and the Bill and Melinda gates foundation for their funds, awareness campaigns and the thousands of volunteers who worked together for us.

But we also need to thank ourselves for lining up for the two drops that give our children a chance to live a life devoid of the perils of polio; we need to thank the local volunteers, the health workers and the Indian Government. I’m not really a fan of the current Health Minister but hell I’d even kiss him if he has helped in any way.

But it’s important that we remember that the road ahead is still a tortuous path. We still need to fight the religious prejudices every day, educational measures and awareness initiatives must not lose their steam and rigorous surveillance is a must if total elimination is our goal. And obviously it is and I am sure we’ll get there. Till then let’s take a moment and celebrate this victory.