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Polio not willing to leave UP
Rishabh.. | 28 Jan 2008

A sharp rise in polio cases in India's largest state has raised fears of the return of a disease the country was close to wiping out just three years ago. THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has described Uttar Pradesh as the "epicentre of polio epidemic"

A SHARP rise in polio cases in India's largest state has raised fears of the return of a disease the country was close to wiping out just three years ago. THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has described Uttar Pradesh as the "epicentre of polio epidemic" Pulse Polio, an immunization campaign established by the government of India in 1994 to eradicate poliomyelitis (polio) in India by vaccinating annually all children under age five against poliovirus. A sharp rise in polio cases in India's largest state has raised fears of the return of a disease the country was close to wiping out just three years ago.

 The health outlook for millions of Indians for 2008 may not be all that bright as experts say that the country will continue battling major diseases like AIDS, polio, malaria and tuberculosis besides concerns like infant and maternal mortality. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the union health ministry were optimistic about curbing the polio virus. But as the year 2007 drew to an end, India continued to be the hot bed of polio with 590 cases as against 676 cases in 2006. This has dealt another blow to the already crumbling public health infrastructure and delivery. There are no polio cases reported from Kerala and Punjab in 2007. Kerala reported the last polio case in the year 2000. Last polio case in Punjab was in 2006. The list is topped by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
 
TheWorld Health Organisation (WHO) has described Uttar Pradesh as the "epicentre of polio epidemic" in the world. As per WHO estimates, the State accounts for 64 per cent of all polio cases reported worldwide. The increase has not been only due to mismanagement at the government level. There are other factors responsible for it. One is the people's apathy to such campaigns, which lack credibility. Besides, misinformation about the polio vaccine being administered is also greatly responsible for the increase. An alarming factor is the resistance of people belonging to the minority community, especially those from the lower income groups, to vaccinate their children. Apparently, there is a belief that the polio vaccine causes impotency.

Other factors responsible for the resurgence of the epidemic in Uttar Pradesh are the high density of population and the lack of awareness about the pulse polio campaign. Extensive publicity campaigns, involving film and cricket personalities, have mitigated the opposition to a great extent but still the cases are on rise. It is very important for Government now to formulate a proper strategy with the political and religious leaders to counter the rising cases of Polio in Uttar Pradesh. Dispelling superstition should be accomplished by roping in local health workers to convince clerics who propagate against the vaccination drive. To control the menace from spreading its tentacles any further, we need to adopt a need-based approach and more scientific methods.