Thursday, India can boast of being polio-free. A new case of the crippling and, at times, deadly disease has not been recorded in the country for three consecutive years. It took three decades to be able to do so and it certainly wasn’t easy.The milestone comes three decades after a vaccine against polio was made available. India’s achievement means the entire ‘Southeast Asian’ region, as classified by the World Health Organization, is now officially rid of the disease.India’s vast population, as well as poor hygiene conditions, were major hurdles in containing the virus, which spreads mainly through contaminated food and water.
Children are most vulnerable to the virus, which attacks the nervous system, leading to paralysis and sometimes death.The country’s first major immunization drive took place in 1995 when 88 million children were vaccinated, a major milestone in the bid to eradicate polio.On Feb. 25, 2012, the World Health Organization removed India from the list of countries where polio was endemic.26 March 27, 2014 marks three years since the last recorded case in India, the time needed for a country to be officially classed as polio-free.