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  • Eradication of polio by 2000 AD - An achievable goal

    It is unfortunate that our achievements in the field of preventive medicine have not kept up with the tremendous advances in high-tech medicine which is now being practiced in India. Between 1988 and 1994 India accounted for 62% of all fresh cases of poliomyelitis reported worldwide (93% of the regional total). During this period many countries in southern and northern Africa achieved their eradication targets for polio.

    Health administrators in India have recognised the need for more concerted efforts for eradicating polio, and the mass polio vaccination campaign which took place recently in the country is a step in this direction.

    The programme involved giving two doses of polio vaccine with an interval of six weeks between doses, to ALL children below the age of five years IRRESPECTIVE OF PRIOR VACCINATION. The campaign was conducted alongside the routine vaccination of children with the three doses of polio vaccine at 2, 3 and 4 months of age.

    The rationale of this programme is to reduce the circulation of wild polio virus in the community. The efficacy of this approach was first demonstrated in India in the 80's by Jacob John who used pulse or cluster immunisation in Vellore town and demonstrated an appreciable decline in the incidence of polio in the town. It is this concept that has been taken up on a national scale and the first two rounds of the pulse polio vaccination programme took place in India in December 1995 and December 1996.

    The success of the programme which is the break in the transmission chain of wild polio virus in the community would depend on whether every child in the community is immunised during the programme. We as surgeons who are involved in ameliorating the catastrophic effects of paralytic polio, should be aware of the strategies of prevention and ensure that every child we come into contact with in our practice is immunised.

    The Editors.