Polio free!!! but many “question marks” remain


Congratulations to all 10 countries who passed (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Sri Lanka are the SAsian nations, also Burma, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, and East Timor).

Given India’s pathetic condition it was considered to be the last frontier for polio. The fact that the job was done at all is nothing short of a miracle.

However celebrations need to be tempered with caution. Polio has now spread westwards to Syria from Af-Pak (via jihadis who plan to set up a drone-free forward base from which to attack Europe/West), it can just as easily spread eastwards as well.

The symbol for polio eradication is Rukhsar Khatun the last victim who still needs treatment and (as noted below) her “future is still a question mark.” 

Not to mention, question marks for millions of Rukhsars living a virtual death sentence as dictated by the merchants of death


She has become the
greatest symbol of India’s valiant — and successful — effort to rid
itself of a crippling and potentially deadly disease. Rukhsar, 4, is the
final documented case of polio in India.

Her face has appeared in
newspapers and on television. She’s been invited to national events by
Rotary International, the organization that led the effort to rid India
of polio. She is a literal poster child, an inspiration, a symbol of a
feat that no doctor or health official thought possible even a few years

Apart from the publicity, though, Rukhsar’s life has hardly changed, her future still a question mark.

She is used to seeing
health officials and reporters arrive on foot at her home in Shahpara, a
village in the Indian state of West Bengal. On the day we visited, she
dressed herself in a long green printed dress, marred only by a tear at
the shoulder. She oiled her hair and pulled it back with plastic
She did it all herself when she learned we were on our way.

Her parents, Abdul Shah,
32, and Shobejan Begum, 30, blame themselves for their child’s
suffering. They had their other children vaccinated, but not Rukhsar.
She was a sickly child, in and out of hospital with liver infections and
diarrhea. They thought it safer not to subject her to more medication.

It wasn’t until little
Rukhsar’s right foot swelled and twisted in early 2011 that her parents
took her to a hospital in nearby Beleghata for tests.
She was just 18
months old when doctors confirmed the worst: Rukhsar had polio.

Polio is caused by a
virus that attacks the brain and spinal cord cells that move joints and
About one-third of those who contract polio in India are left
paralyzed — as was Rukhsar.

“Everything was our fault,” explains her father. “I thought she would never walk again.”

The World Health Organisation officially certified India and
10 other Asian countries free of polio on Thursday, a milestone lauded
as a “momentous victory” over an ancient scourge.

Southeast Asian region, which includes India but excludes Afghanistan
and Pakistan, was certified by a panel of experts after the countries
went three years without reporting a single new case.

The WHO said
the certification meant 80 per cent of the world’s population lived in
polio-free regions and was an important step towards global eradication
of the crippling disease.

“This is a momentous victory for the
millions of health workers who have worked with governments,
nongovernmental organisations, civil society and international partners
to eradicate polio from the region,” said WHO Southeast Asia regional
director Poonam Khetrapal Singh.

certification is particularly significant in India, home to 1.2 billion
people, and which until 2009 still accounted for half of all cases

The certification confirms one of India’s biggest public
health success stories, accomplishing something once thought
impossible, thanks to a massive and sustained vaccination programme. India
celebrated the milestone on January 13 – which marked three years since
the last reported new case in the country, that of a teenage girl in a
slum in the eastern city of Kolkata.

India reported 150,000 cases
of paralytic polio in 1985, and 741 new infections that led to paralysis
in 2009. In following year, the number of new victims fell to double
figures before the last case in January 2011. 

India’s poor
sanitation, mass internal migration and dilapidated public health system
made many experts believe it would be the last country to eradicate the
disease, if at all.

The countries certified Thursday were India,
Bangladesh, Bhutan, South Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal,
Sri Lanka, Thailand and East Timor.


Brown Pundits