India Progresses towards Polio Eradication

Eradication StrategySurveillance StrategyAFP & Polio DataMapsSMO NetworkLAB NetworkAdvisory GroupGlossary




Prior to October 1997, surveillance for polio in India was conducted through routine passive reporting by physicians of clinically suspected polio cases. Because surveillance was not designed to search for all cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), and because active surveillance for AFP was not conducted, the ability of the system to detect polio cases was limited. In October 1997, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India (GoI) recruited 59 surveillance medical officers (SMOs) to be trained and posted throughout the country to establish active AFP surveillance for polio eradication. Together with their government counterparts, the SMOs established 8,371 AFP surveillance reporting units nationwide initiated procedures for timely case investigation and collection of stool specimens from every reported AFP case; promoted linkages between the immunization and surveillance programme managers and the polio laboratory network; conducted extensive training of government counterparts, and assisted in planning supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) for polio eradication. Since 1997, as the extent of poliovirus transmission in India has become better defined quantitatively and geographically, the size of the NPSP team and the number of reporting units has expanded in order to provide the required level of effort to ensure that India will meet the goal of polio eradication.

The National Polio Surveillance Project (NPSP) is a collaborative project of the Government of India and the WHO and is managed by the latter. NPSP assists Union and state governments with building and maintaining surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and poliovirus. NPSP also assists with planning and monitoring of polio immunization activities aimed at eliminating polio from India. Currently a team of 296 Surveillance Medical Officers (SMOs) and 7 Regional Team Leaders (RTLs) working in all of India’s 35 States and Union Territories comprise the field staff of the project. The regions are further divided into 28 Sub-Regions, each of which is managed by a Sub-Regional Team Leaders (SRTL). They are supported by a network of eight WHO-accredited polio laboratories, which undertake the virological investigation of AFP cases. The central headquarters of the project - the National Polio Surveillance Unit (NPSU) – is located in New Delhi, and provides technical, administrative and logistical back-up to field staff and laboratories and interfaces with the Government of India and national and international donor and partner agencies. Core NPSU staff include the Project Manager supported by two Deputy Project Managers, and team leaders for Surveillance, Supplementary Immunization, Routine Immunization, Data Management, Administrative, Human Resources and Finance. NPSP provides ongoing updated data on the epidemiology of poliovirus in India, such as, location of AFP cases with isolation of wild poliovirus, to enable planning of targeted immunization activities that will achieve the final interruption of wild poliovirus transmission. Our objective is to maintain AFP surveillance at the highest level, so that the absence of wild polioviruses can be demonstrated with confidence. The AFP surveillance in India currently meets the standards required by the Global Commission for the Certification of Polio Eradication. Building on AFP surveillance, in recent years NPSP has expanded its surveillance activities in close collaboration with Government authorities to Measles and Japanese Encephalitis surveillance in some states. NPSP also provides strategic technical assistance to the Union and state governments for improving routine immunization through a team of 19 medical officers at national, state and district levels dedicated to routine immunization as well as its network of SMOs throughout the country. The key elements of the support include formulation of policy, norms, standards and strategies, guidelines for planning at macro and micro levels, surveillance and program monitoring, data management and analysis systems and training and capacity building.

©National Polio Surveillance Project, All Rights Reserved

©National Polio Surveillance Project, All Rights Reserved

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