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India to support global polio eradication: Azad

New Delhi, Feb 26 - After registering a zero-polio period in the last one year, India said Sunday it will extend full support and cooperation to help Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria in eliminating the disease as part of the global eradication programme.

"I assure that India will be most willing to extend all possible support and effort needed for global elimination of polio. We are with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria in the eradication of polio," Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said at the concluding day of the 2-day polio summit here.

"I am sure they will succeed in their mission to eliminate the disease," Azad added.

India was taken off the list of polio endemic countries by the global health body World Health Organisation (WHO) Saturday. Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan are still noting high incidences of the disease that has affected India for long. The representatives of the three nations were present at the Polio Summit organised by the health ministry and Rotary International.

While the situation has eased for India, experts said the country needs to stay alert and carry continouity in routine immunisation.

"We need to march ahead with continuous effort and vigilance. A new case of the polio virus should not bring down our morale to fight the disease," said Kalyan Banerjee, president of the Rotary International, said.

The country has spent more than Rs.12,000 crore on the Pulse Polio Programme. It took a lead in introducing bivalent polio vaccine (bOPV) in January 2010.

The last new polio case in India was reported Jan 13, 2011, involving a two-year-old girl in West Bengal. In 2010, there were 42 cases, as compared to 741 in 2009, which accounted for nearly half of the world''s polio cases. In 1991, there were 6,028 cases and in 1985, the number stood at 150,000.



-IANS


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