KARNATAKA

No new cases of polio in South: Expert

GULBARGA Jan. 3. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala have not reported any fresh case of polio in the past two years, Lalitha Kameshwari, Surveillance Medical Officer of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said here on Friday. She was delivering a special lecture on incidence of polio organised by the Mahadevappa Rampure Medical College, the District Kannada Vaidhya Sahitya Parishat, and the Government General Hospital.

Dr. Kameshwari said although polio had been controlled in South India because of the intense Pulse Polio programme launched by the Government and other aid agencies, the disease had been spreading on an epidemic scale in parts of North India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. However, the incidence of polio was on the wane in the country. Only 265 new cases were detected last year as against 1,100 reported in 2001. She said polio was one of the six preventable diseases. It was also the most dangerous of the six diseases. If timely immunisation was not provided to children, polio crippled them permanently while the other five diseases could be treated. She said there were three types of polio virus, namely P1, P2, and P3 in the country and of them, P2 and P3 had been eradicated and 90 per cent of the new cases detected were of the P1 type. After eradicating Small Pox from the world, the WHO took up the task of eradicating polio. Even before the WHO launched the programme to eradicate polio, India took the lead through a massive drive for the immunisation of the children in 1995.

Dr. Kameshwari said January and February were chosen for Pulse Polio as the transmission of the virus was at its lowest during these two months. Although children aged below two were susceptible to polio attack, the Government had fixed the upper age limit at 5 for immunisation under the Pulse Polio programme. The focus of the WHO and the government programmes was poor people who lacked awareness and resources to immunise their children. This year the Pulse Polio programme would be organised on January 5 and February 9. Uma Venur, journalist, who presided over the function, stressed on the need to bring about change in the attitude of the people towards polio-afflicted children. Although the Government had taken up programmes to eradicate polio and rehabilitate those afflicted with the disease, it was the responsibility of society to instil confidence among the polio-afflicted to enable them to lead a normal life.

Earlier, the District Surgeon, M.M.Baig, who retired on December 31, was felicitated on the occasion. The District Vaidhya Sahitya Parishat President, S.S.Gubbi, its Secretary, S.S.Hiremath, and the District Surgeon, P.S.Rasalkar, were present.

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