Thursday’s announcement of a global commitment to eradicate polio (this is from Reuters) within five years was largely ignored by the Indian media. This is in part because India has been polio free for two years (something that the media has celebrated). In part ,it reflects just how little notice most of the global media took of Thursday’s announcement on the new global commitment to eradicate polio by 2018. There may be three reasons for this global switch-off: there have been plans to end polio within a few years before. This roadmap still leaves a lot of technical questions unanswered (for example, how fast countries should switch from the current oral polio vaccines, which can cause rare case of the illness, to inactivated polio vaccines, which cost more). The plan gets at least half of its funding from Bill Gates and a handful of other foundations; other than the Crown Prince of the UAE (the host), all of the big government donations were from the usual list of countries: Canada, Norway and the UK.
India’s media should be paying more attention, though. As The Hindu pointed out in January, “polio free does not mean paralysis free.” To meet the global eradication plan and to remove the risk of paralysis, India will have to re-design its vast anti-polio vaccination effort before 2018. In a country the size of India, it may already be too late