Special Correspondent

Admission comes after UN Secretary-General writes to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

NEW DELHI: The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has admitted that the ambitious Pulse Polio -- polio eradication - programme has failed in Uttar Pradesh resulting in an increase in cases of polio in the country.

The admission comes in the wake of a letter from United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing concern over an increase in the number of polio cases.

"The outbreak threatens global eradication efforts since polio viruses of Indian origin have been identified in countries newly affected in 2006, including neighbouring Bangladesh, as well as Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo," Mr. Annan's letter said.

Sources in the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry said that while the polio eradication programme in U.P. had failed to deliver because of bad implementation and that was a cause of concern, the number of dropouts in every round of Pulse Polio had been on the rise in the State.

The number of polio cases reported this year had touched 283 as against 66 last year. While earlier the virus was restricted to Moradabad and J.P. Nagar districts of western U.P., it has now spread to central and eastern parts of the States besides Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. Of the cases reported all over the country, 255 have been detected in U.P., 17 in Bihar and the rest from other parts of the country. The Prime Minister, for his part, is said to have written to the Chief Ministers of the affected States.