Volume 4 Issue 12 - June 15, 2006

Centre tells U.P., Bihar to shoulder blame for rising polio cases

D.N.I.S. News Network Concerned over the recent spurt in polio cases, the Centre has asked Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) and Bihar governments to shoulder the blame for the failure to check polio cases in their respective states. Thirty seven cases of polio have been reported in India so far this year as against 20 in 2005. Of the 37 registered cases, 34 are of P1 polio and three of P3 variety.

Of the 21 cases reported from U.P., Moradabad district accounted for 11 followed by two each in Badayun, Bareilly and Farukkhabad, and one each in Bulandshahr, Ferozabad, J.P. Nagar and Pilibhit. In Bihar, of the 12 cases reported, Patna accounted for 3 followed by 2 each in Muzaffarpur, East Champaran and Darbhanga and one each in West Champaran, Purnia and Sheohar. The solitary case of Madhya Pradesh has been reported from Chattarpur. In 2002, U.P. had seen a spurt in polio cases, when 1,242 cases were reported. Owing to a strong immunisation drive in the subsequent years, the figure dropped drastically to less than 100 by 2004, and was down to 29 in 2005. Unfortunately, this year there has been a sudden rise of 21 cases in the first five months which is now a cause of concern for the Government.

The Union Health Ministry said that the outbreak of the disease was a result of total failure on the part of the two state governments in running the polio eradication programme. Despite the two states being approached nothing is happening, a senior ministry official was quoted in a report. The ministry also expressed concerned over the number of unprotected children even after the Prime Minister had written to the respective chief ministers to take effective measures.

The virus which has been virtually disabled the world over, now remains a mounting threat in only two countries - India and Nigeria. Within the country, it is U.P. that is lagging far behind in the efforts to eradicate polio. Lack of literacy and suspicion towards Government-backed health programmes have been identified as possible causes, along with a sense of complacency among the health workers.

It is important to impress upon the agencies involved in combating polio that there is no safe number and that even one case is as good as 100 since the affliction multiplies. The Government as well as N.G.O.s must step up the awareness campaign. Ultimately, it is poor governance, coupled with frequent transfers of officials, lack of public awareness and negligence or sheer lack of dedication on the part of various agencies involved in the campaign, that have attributed to the rise in the number of polio cases. It is high time the U.P. and Bihar Governments bring this cavalier approach to an end so that the country can achieve its aim of eradicating polio.

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