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India vulnerable to polio virus from Pakistan, says expert

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 - 6:40pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Although India has succeeded in eradicating polio from the country, the virus may still find its way here from Pakistan, according to a health expert, who has been working in this field for the last 13 years.  

In 2013, 341 polio cases were reported worldwide, up from 250 in 2012. Pakistan is one of the three countries where the polio virus is still rampant. And India, which turned polio-free in 2011, is vulnerable as a lot of people from Pakistan come to India every year, said Dr Carol Pandak, director of Rotary International’s polio eradication program. Peshawar and Rawalpindi, from where maximum traffic comes to India, are the two most polio affected cities of Pakistan.

“Tremendous efforts have been put by India to set herself free from polio but its neighbour, Pakistan, is a hotbed for polio,” said Dr Pandak. “This year too, we have 63 cases of polio in Pakistan. Nigeria and Afghanistan have reported 51 and 9 cases respectively,” said Dr Pandak.

The polio virus has traveled to Afghanistan and lately to Syria from Pakistan. Similarly, the virus spread to Somalia from Nigeria. So the countries where the concentration of this virus is rampant is most likely to transmit it to its immediate neighbours, said Dr Pandak.

Polio is rampant in war-torn nations as governments have other that take precedence ive polio eradication. “These countries are unstable and their governments have other priorities upfront,” said Dr Pandak. “I would like to tell you that there is no dearth of vaccine in any of these countries. It is the arrival of newborns at health centres to use the vaccines. Pakistan, especially, has a very poor ratio when it comes to parents brining their newborn for vaccination.”

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