``Uttar Pradesh will be the focus State in the campaign''
Awareness programmes will be held for MuslimsCentre will deploy 40,000 Accredited Social Health Activists for the purpose
NEW DELHI: The Centre will strengthen its fight against polio across the country in the coming three months with Uttar Pradesh, where the maximum polio cases have been reported, being its focus State. The next national pulse polio round is scheduled for the first week of November and much would depend on the success of this round.
Talking to reporters after an emergency meeting of the Health Ministers of polio-affected States here on Thursday, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said special awareness programmes would be held for the Muslims as 70 per cent of the cases have been reported from this community due to children missing their polio drop rounds.
Besides stepping up the awareness campaign, Centre in coordination with the State Government would deploy 40,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), trained under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) for the purpose. It would also provide training to the vaccinators who would also be used for routine immunisation programme. The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry would look into the possibility of giving incentives to the vaccinators to ensure that the chain is not broken.
Denying that potency of the oral vaccines was the cause behind the resurgence of the virus, Dr. Ramadoss said the vaccines had been tested before and after being sent to the field and these were found effective.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) conducted these tests. There were rumours that the oral polio vaccines caused impotency that was believed to be a major factor for a large number of children of a minority community missing immunisation. ``We are not blaming any minority community or any State Government but this notion has been debunked now,'' he said.
The State Government, too, had taken cognisance of the issue and was now trying to tackle it, as a result of which the percentage of polio immunisation had gone up in the past months, he added.
Dr. Ramadoss would be going to Geneva shortly to discuss the issue with the WHO that has written to him following a spurt in the polio cases in India.
This year, 297 polio cases have been reported, of which 269 are from U.P., 17 from Bihar, 5 from Haryana and one each from Delhi, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
The Health Ministers of U.P., Haryna, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra attended the meeting on Thursday besides experts from the WHO, UNICEF and rotary clubs.