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Statement by Shri Ajit Kumar, Ambassador of India to the United Nations at the High Level Meeting of the Global Polio Partners Group (PPG), World Health Organization in Geneva.

Permanent Mission of India

Statement by Shri Ajit Kumar, Ambassador of India to the United Nations at the High Level Meeting of the Global Polio Partners Group (PPG) at World Health Organization, Geneva

24 June 2016

Director General, Dr. Margret Chan,

Excellencies, distinguished Co-Chairs and friends,

We thank the Director General and Chair of Independent Monitoring Board for their comprehensive inputs. January 2016 marked the 5th year with out a Polio case in India. This was yet another significant achievement in our continued efforts to protect our children from the scourge of Polio.

Polio End Game Strategy and Implementation of the Switch

Government of India is fully committed to the Polio-end game strategy.

India was the first country to conduct a dry run of the switch from trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (tOPV) to bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV) to field-test the global switch guidelines and tools.

India has successfully implemented the switch from trivalent OPV to bivalent OPV on 25th April 2016 as a part of the globally synchronized withdrawal of type 2 component of OPV to reduce the risk of VDPV due to type 2 poliovirus. As a part of this switch, IPV was introduced in the country in November 2015 under routine immunization and has been expanded to whole country.

Roll out of IPV administration in states is being monitored by Government officials and WHO-India (NPSP) as a part of routine immunization monitoring framework.The National Certification Committee for Polio Eradication (NCCPE) has been assigned the task to validate the switch in the country.
Surveillance and Circulating VDPVs

A major component of our successful Polio programme was putting in place a robust monitoring and surveillance system. India continues to maintain a very high vigil for poliovirus detection. A robust acute flaccid paralysis surveillance and environmental surveillance of international standards is in place to detect all forms of polioviruses.As part of the environmental surveillance sewage samplesare being conducted regularly from 30 sites across seven states in India.

On very rare occasions, Vaccine-derived polio viruses (VDPVs) have been isolated from sewage samples. However, the detection of VDPV only indicates the robustness of our surveillance system. Strong short- and long-term management strategies are in place to adequately manage any risk associated with isolation of VDPVs. 

I will briefly highlight the steps that were taken in response to the recent isolation of VDPV in a sewage sample to illustrate the robustness of the measures we have put in place to deal with such incidents.

Response to VDPV isolate in sewage sample at Telangana

A sewage sample collected on 16 May 2016 from Telangana State was reported positive for Vaccine Derived Poliovirus (VDPV) type 2 by laboratory on 7th June, 2016.

To assess the situation, community survey was immediately done in Hyderabad after detection of VDPV in sewage sample. The survey revealed that 94 % children received atleast 3 doses of OPV and no paralyzed children were found in the area. The population immunity against poliovirus type 2 is high as trivalent OPV was in use in the state until 24th April 2016 and two mass vaccination campaigns with tOPV were conducted in January and February 2016. AFP surveillance in the area was found to be sensitive.

Based on the data on surveillance and immunity in India and Hyderabad, Advisory group of WHO-HQ on 10 June 2016 recommended a mop up response with fractional dose of Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) in high risk pockets of affected area as a risk mitigation strategy. Detailed microplanning was done for the mop up response by Telangana State government in conjunction with partners like WHO, UNICEF and Rotary. Additional IPV vaccine was immediately mobilized to the State.

A special IPV campaign was launched on 20th June, 2016 in high risk pockets of Hyderabad and Rangareddy districts targeting nearly 3,50,000 children from 6 weeks to 3 years age to provide additional protection and is ongoing. IPV is being given at nearly 835 planned sites in these two districts.

I am happy to inform that the community response to the campaign has been very good and as on 22nd June, 2016, nearly 1,67,000 children have been given IPV in first 3 days of the campaign.

It is important to note that the virus has been detected from environmental samples only – and I point out that no children have been affected nor cases of paralysis associated.

The switch in April 2016, under the Polio End Game Plan is a critical step to prevent VDPVs and stop all polio, whether due to wild or vaccine-derived viruses.

In conclusion,

I wish to emphasize that Government of India continues to conduct strong surveillance for any poliovirus from any source, and continues to strengthen overall population immunity to ensure children continue to be fully protected from lifelong polio paralysis.

We thank WHO and the Global Polio Partners Group and the Co-Chairs for their continued support to us in this endeavor. We stand ready to share our experiences and best practices with others to accelerate the progress in achieving our collective vision of a polio free world.

I thank you Madam Chair.