- Associated Press - Friday, January 13, 2012

NEW DELHI (AP) - The top U.S. health official administered polio vaccination drops to children in New Delhi on Friday as India marked one year since its last case of the crippling disease.

The milestone is a major victory in the global effort to eradicate polio. If no previously undisclosed cases are uncovered in the coming weeks, India will be removed the list of endemic countries, leaving only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius marked the day by administering the oral polio vaccine to children at a maternal health clinic in New Delhi.

India’s success in fighting polio has been credited to a partnership between the government, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Rotary International, whose members have contributed more than $1 billion to the global eradication effort.

The achievement gives a boost to those who had begun to lose hope of ever defeating the stubborn disease.

“Marching ahead, the goal now is to sustain this momentum,” said Deepak Kapur, head of Rotary’s polio eradication program in India.