India’s Finally Polio-Free. Here’s Why it Matters. India’s Finally Polio-Free. Here’s Why it Matters.

India’s Finally Polio-Free. Here’s Why it Matters.

by Bill Gates

January 15, 2014

And now that these children have been found, health workers can supply them with much more than just polio drops. They can provide other critical health services like measles vaccines, clean water, and information about how to deliver their babies safely and care for them during their first weeks of life.

India’s victory galvanized the global health community to commit to achieving a polio-free world by 2018. Now, we only have three more countries to go, down from 125 in 1988. All three countries face unique challenges that make eradication difficult, but India’s success gives the polio program valuable lessons to apply in the remaining countries and confidence that eradication is possible.

India’s success is cause for celebration – but not complacency. We saw last year, in Syria and the Horn of Africa, how this disease can silently spread to places that have not had cases in many years. Two years before, polio popped up in more countries, including China and Tajikistan. These outbreaks are stark reminders that as long as polio exists in the last reservoirs in Northern Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the disease is still a threat everywhere. India showed us what is possible – we can end polio, and protect all children everywhere from this debilitating disease forever. Doing the hard work to make this dream come true is up to us.

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India’s Finally Polio-Free. Here’s Why it Matters.