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Polio remains big challenge in Bihar
Published on 7 Nov. 2009 11:57 PM IST
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Eradicating polio from Bihar continues to be a big challenge with at least 100 new cases of polio recorded in the state this year, despite multi-million rupee campaigns by the state and central governments as well as WHO and Unicef, officials said Saturday. After Uttar Pradesh, Bihar has been recording the second highest incidence of the disease in India for the last few years. “About 100 new cases of polio have been detected in Bihar till first week of November this year despite the immunisation drives,” a health department official said here Saturday. Terming it an “alarming” situation, he admitted that it was a setback to the polio immunisation drive in the state. An official of the state health department said that this year again it was found that children already vaccinated against polio were infected by the disease. According to latest data, collected under the National Polio Surveillance Programme (NPSP) of the World Health Organisation (WHO), of the 98 cases of poliomyelitis detected in Bihar till Oct 30 this year, 93 children had been administered seven doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV). One child had been given three doses and the vaccination status of the other four kids is unknown. Bihar Health Minister Nand Kishore Yadav told IANS here that re-surfacing of new polio cases is posing a big challenge to the government agencies trying to eradicate polio. However, he was optimistic that the disease would be eradicted in the state by 2012. “It is a matter of serious concern if children are being affected by polio after being administered doses,” Yadav said. Sources in the Unicef office here said that in Bihar, cases of the P1 and P3 strains were detected. What is worrying health officials and doctors of the state is that in place of decline, polio cases are showing an increasing trend. Bihar reported 158 polio cases in 1998 - the year the polio immunisation drive started, 123 in 1999, 49 in 2000, 22 in 2001, 121 in 2002, 18 in 2003, 39 in 2004, 30 in 2005, 61 in 2006 and 193 in 2007. Over 300 new cases were reported in 2008, the highest since the the immunisation drive was launched. In recent past, health experts expressed concern over rising polio cases in Bihar and fear an outbreak in the state may mar India’s eradication efforts. “Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are two states that were posing a real stumbling block in eradicating polio from India,” another health official said. India has spent millions of rupees on the immunisation drive to eradicate polio but the ground reality in Bihar shows much remains to be done. “Though millions were spent on a series of immunisation drives, the battle against polio is far from over in Bihar,” Yadav admitted.

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