Apart from India, the other countries which were given polio-free certificates were Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, the Maldives and Myanmar.
The certificates were handed over to the respective health ministers by WHO Regional Director (Southeast Asia) Poonam Khetrapal Singh at a ceremony here.
A country is declared polio-free by the WHO, if no case is reported for three consecutive years. India reported the last polio case in January 2011.
This announcement means that now 80% of the world is officially free of polio, although the disease is still endemic in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "This (southeast Asia) is the fourth region to be certified polio-free. The distant dream of polio eradication in the region is now a reality." Azad said that resources were never allowed to be a problem for the campaign against polio. "It was an unbelievable operation. It is a significant step towards global eradication of polio."
The WHO regional director said, "The goal of polio eradication was made in 1988. It marks one of the biggest public health achievements. Let us not forget that the war against polio is not over. There are two regions left where polio still needs to be eradicated.".
Khetrapal Singh said the next target was to eradicate measles from the region by 2020 for which the structure put in for polio eradication can be used effectively.
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With agency inputs