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Funding gap may weaken fight against polio in India: Rotary

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

"A USD 700 million funding gap threatens to undermine all of the progress achieved against the disease in the last two and half decades since 1988," a Rotary release said on the eve of World Polio Day.

India, which recorded its last polio case in January 2011, has officially been removed from the list of polio-endemic nations. It is midway to being certified a polio-free region in 2014 if no case is reported till then.

The organisation, which has contributed in the polio immunisation drive in India, also warned against any complacency in efforts to keep the country free from the virus.

It urged India to sustain the polio eradication drive as "the threat still persists."

"The threat of a rebound still exists due to the risk of virus importation...

Multiple challenges still prevail and the threat of spread could be accentuated by complacency, cross- border importation, diminishing funds and the misperception that the polio threat has ceased," Deepak Kapur, chair of Rotary International's India National PolioPlus Committee, said.

"Any attempt to drop or dilute preventive measures and safeguards due to financial constraints or other challenges could allow the virus to rebound by 'importation' through an endemic nation.

"Given this danger, the national immunisation campaigns need to be sustained until global eradication is a reality. That is the best way to safeguard the wellbeing of susceptible children against the crippling effects of polio," he said.

Considering that India has officially eradicated polio, donor and campaign fatigue are natural outcomes that may induce a sense of complacency in activists and officials, Rotary also said.

The wild poliovirus still exists in three countries of Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

First Published: Tue, October 23 2012. 22:05 IST