New Delhi: Concerned over any entry of polio virus from other countries, the government on Saturday launched Pulse Polio programme for 2018.

As a part of the drive, more than 17 crore children of less than five years across the country will be given polio drops to sustain polio eradication from the country.

“We need to remain vigilant and maintain the population immunity and sensitive surveillance till global polio eradication happens as poliovirus is still circulating in other parts of the world which may re-infect us," said union minister for health and family welfare J.P. Nadda.

“In order to mitigate the risk of poliovirus importation, the immunity against polio infection is maintained through National and Sub-National Polio rounds along with sustained high quality polio surveillance. For additional protection we have also introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) into its routine immunization program," Nadda stated.

In India the last polio case was recorded on 13 January 2011.

India maintains a sensitive surveillance system for polio. All cases of paralysis with sudden onset in children up to 15 years (which is called Acute Flaccid Paralysis or AFP) are picked up by the polio surveillance network. Each of these cases is followed up and their stool samples tested for poliovirus in World Health Organization (WHO) accredited laboratories. In addition, sewage samples are collected from over 30 sites spread across the country for poliovirus detection at regular intervals.

Between January 2015 and May 2016, a total of 14 sewage samples collected from different parts of the country tested positive for vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPVs) . None of these VDPVs detected in the sewage infected any children, so far.

Country has done two nationwide polio campaigns this year. Polio vaccination is being carried out at international borders and is a must for people travelling to polio affected countries. India was declared polio-free on 27 March 2014. Despite India being polio free, it has made cross border surveillance stringent.

According to WHO data,in 2016, Pakistan reported 20 wild poliovirus cases while Afghanistan saw 13 cases. The WHO has also said that international travellers carry the risk of spreading the virus.

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