India's Battle Against Polio Making Headway: Report

by VR Sreeraman on Aug 4 2007 12:19 PM

India's fight against the most dangerous strain of polio appears to be making headway with a sharp fall in the number of cases reported so far this year, according to a report Friday.

Only 39 cases of the fast-moving and virulent P1 strain were recorded in the past seven months from eight states in the country, a health official told the Press Trust of India news agency.

That compared with 648 P1 cases reported for 2006, the news agency said.

"We are very happy that our sustained efforts to check the P1 strain have been successful. Our endeavour is to wipe it out," the official told PTI.

P1 spreads quickly and paralyses one out of every 200 children infected.

Overall there have been 124 cases of polio reported from eight states, PTI said.

Last year, India had a total of 676 cases, up from a low of 66 registered with the health ministry in 2005.

Eighty-five cases of Type 3 polio have been reported so far in the country but it "is easier to control," the official added. "We are hopeful we will be able to wipe it out as it is a weaker virus."

Last year Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss set 2007 as the deadline for eradicating the crippling disease from India, which has been accused by the World Health Organisation of exporting the virus to Africa, as well as elsewhere in Asia.

India is one of the four remaining polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.