A child receives oral polio vaccine drops in Patna district, India. (Gates Foundation / flickr)
In January, India marked an incredible achievement: one year since the country's last reported case of polio. That is cause for celebration -- not just in India but around the world. Twenty years ago, there were more than 100 polio-endemic countries; now, only three remain.
Such a victory over polio seemed almost impossible just a decade ago. India's tropical climate is conducive to the survival and spread of the disease. Meanwhile, India's dense, ethnically and linguistically diverse population made it difficult for the government to reach its most at-risk citizens. So, even as the government eliminated the disease from much of the country over the past 15 years, polio hotbeds stubbornly remained.
Read more at at Foreign Affairs' Special Report: Global Public Health.
That India is free of wild polio today is a testament to the commitment of the Indian government. It invested more than $1 billion over the last decade and collaborated with community leaders, health workers, businesses, and parents to fight the disease. The success is also the product of an international partnership that brought together governments, including the United States, Japan, and Norway; nongovernmental organizations, such as Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and multilateral agencies, namely, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund.
I saw the fruits of that partnership firsthand in January, when I traveled to New Delhi as part of a U.S. Department of Health
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