India is set to make an “extraordinary commitment” to polio eradication in the Indian subcontinent, the foreign ministry said on Friday, following a call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to step up efforts to curb the disease.
India is the world’s largest source of polio cases, but it has also suffered from the spread of the virus in neighbouring Pakistan.
The latest figures released on Friday showed that the global total of polio-related deaths reached 5,058,746 in 2017, up from 5,064,856 in 2016.
This was the highest total since 2000, according to WHO figures.
The country had reported 2,073,943 cases of the disease in 2016, which accounted for more than 30% of the global totals.
India has not reported a polio case in the last two years, and the government says the number of confirmed cases in the country is limited to the four districts in the northeast.
Modi had appealed for help to combat the disease, and on Thursday he asked Modi Cabinet to set up a taskforce to implement his recommendations, including increasing the number and number of immunisation clinics.
“India will be the single largest contributor to the global effort against polio,” the foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, said.
“Our country has never lost its commitment to eradicating polio and will continue to make all possible efforts to prevent further spread of this devastating disease.”
Modi is also expected to announce an ambitious strategy to tackle global warming and climate change, including a national green energy policy.
He will also unveil an ambitious target to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 30% from 2005 levels by 2030.
The move is likely to anger Washington, which is already under pressure to reduce its carbon footprint and the emissions that come from India’s coal-fired power plants.