Volume 4 Issue 13 - July 01, 2006

Government to rehabilitate polio victims; Rs. 1,039 crore earmarked for polio eradication

D.N.I.S. News Network Apart from focusing on prevention, the Government has for the first time taken up the responsibility of rehabilitating about 20,000 polio victims in the country.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has earmarked Rs. 20 crore for providing corrective surgery and rehabilitating polio victims, in addition to equipping them to earn their livelihood. This is a part of the Rs 1,039 crore funds approved by the Cabinet on a Health Ministry proposal for implementing the polio eradication strategies during the current financial year.

The strategies include the conduct of four nationwide rounds of polio immunisation combined with several rounds of sub-national immunisation in high risk States and areas, in addition to mop-up rounds where polio cases are detected in other States. The exact number of sub-national and mop up rounds would depend on recommendations of the group of experts as and when required.

As per the National Polio Surveillance Project - a joint programme of the Union Health Ministry and the World Health Organisation, 60 cases of polio have already been detected in India this year, as against 20 cases for the same period last year. In 2005, for the entire year, there were only 66 cases. Uttar Pradesh accounted for a majority of the cases (46) followed by Bihar with 12 cases. Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand had one case each.

Recently, Health Ministry officials had come down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar Governments for their irresponsible behaviour and had told them to shoulder the blame for the failure to check polio cases in their respective states. As many as 33 States and Union Territories have been free of polio cases for the last three years, but there is a need to continue with the immunisation programmes to ensure that the disease does not spread to them.

Pointing to the fact that the country had been spending over Rs. 1,000 crore a year for the polio eradication programme, the officials said that if Uttar Pradesh and Bihar took extra efforts to get rid of the disease, this amount could be used for other urgent health needs.

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