Log out
My profile and settings
My bookmarks
Comment history
Please complete your account verification. Resend verification email.
today
This verification token has expired.
today
Your email address has been verified. Update my profile.
today
Your account has been deactivated. Sign in to re-activate your account.
today
View all newsletters in the newsletter archive
today
You are now unsubscribed from receiving emails.
today
Sorry, we were unable to unsubscribe you at this time.
today
0
0
Back to profile
Comment Items
You have not left any comments yet.
title
you replied to a comment:
name
description
Saved Posts
You haven’t bookmarked any posts yet.
“No two teachers have the same students, so they should be able to serve their students in different ways.”
read more
Become a Gates Notes Insider
Sign up
Log out
Personal Information
Title
Mr
Mrs
Ms
Miss
Mx
Dr
Cancel
Save
This email is already registered
Cancel
Save
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Cancel
Save
Address
Cancel
Save
Email and Notification Settings
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
On
Off
Send me Gates Notes survey emails
On
Off
Send me the weekly Top of Mind newsletter
On
Off
Email me comment notifications
On
Off
On-screen comment notifications
On
Off
Interests
Select interests to personalize your profile and experience on Gates Notes.
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Alzheimer's
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Account Deactivation
Click the link below to begin the account deactivation process.
If you would like to permanently delete your Gates Notes account and remove it’s content, please send us a request here.
Polio
Meeting the Musahar
A trip to a remote corner of India taught me a powerful lesson about what it will take to wipe out polio.
|
0

Whenever someone asks me why I believe it’s possible to eradicate polio, I tell them about my 2010 trip to India to visit one of the country’s lowest castes—the Musahar.

Today, India is polio free. But less than a decade ago, more than half the world’s cases of polio could be found in India. At the time, many health experts said that India would be the last place on Earth to stop polio because its high birth rate, poor sanitation, and population density allowed the disease to flourish.

So how did they wipe out the disease?

Mobile device users: To view the virtual reality film below, click here to open YouTube.
Note: This is a virtual reality film that you can view using a VR headset, or in your browser as a 360* video. Learn more

The answer can be found in the remote marshlands of the Kosi River in the Indian state of Bihar. The region is home to one of the poorest, most underserved castes in India, the Musahar. In 2010, vaccinating the Musahar and other people living in remote, high-risk areas was one of the biggest obstacles India faced in its long campaign to end the paralyzing disease. Thousands of children were being missed during the national immunization drives, allowing the disease to continue to spread.

In response, the Indian government launched an all-out effort to reach every child, employing a new communication campaign to mobilize support for polio immunization and better maps to ensure that no family was missed. They deployed more than 2 million vaccinators who covered every speck of the country, including the Musahar village I visited, which was often inaccessible because of flooding from the Kosi River. (One of the most inspiring photographs of that time was an image of polio workers wading waste deep in water to reach remote villages with the polio vaccine.)


Meeting the Musahar

By 2014, India achieved its goal of being polio free, proving that the paralyzing disease could be defeated in the most complicated circumstances. With new ties to even the remotest communities, health workers are providing children with much more than the polio vaccine. They continue to work with local communities to improve the delivery of other critical health services, including maternal and newborn care, as well as vaccinations for measles and other preventable diseases.

India’s experience continues to be an inspiration for the world’s final push to wipe out polio in the three countries where it endures: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Based on the latest figures, in 2017, there were just 21 identified cases of wild poliovirus in the world—the lowest number ever—down from 350,000 cases per year when the global polio eradication effort launched in 1988.

That’s an incredible achievement. But now is no time for complacency. If polio is a threat anywhere in the world, it is a threat to us all. That’s why it’s more important than ever for the world to continue to support the millions of vaccinators who are working tirelessly to finish the job. Their dream, as is mine, is to see the day that polio is defeated.

 

Read this next
NEXT