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Indian Express
09 August 2010
By Anuradha Mascarenhas
Pune, India

INDIA is well on its way to eradicate the polio virus, according to health officials who show the sharp dip in the number of cases this year as against last year’s as an indication.

Largely because of effective surveillance of migrant population and vaccination drive, so far this year only 25 cases have been registered against last year’s 741.

Dr Ravindra Bantel, Regional Te am leader of the World Health Organization-National Polio Surveillance programme for Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, told The Indian Express that a meeting has been planned next week in New Delhi to further streamline the population of migrants and identify areas in the states along with municipal corporations so that each person is covered under the Pulse Polio immunisation rounds.

So far, two national immunisation rounds have been held and high risk pockets in the country have received three additional rounds of vaccination. Out of the 25 cases in the country, 10 are from Uttar Pradesh, six from Bihar, five from West Bengal and one each from Maharashtra, Jharkhand and J&K. There have been seven cases of the P1 strain of the virus and 18 of the less virulent P3 strain.

Bantel said the migrant population mapping in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad was being constantly updated and this year the majority of them were immunised at the construction sites. The surveillance officials worked in tandem with the local corporation who have data on the wardwise population.

"What we plan to do is validate these pockets and areas that have been identified as migrant ones and conduct another survey. For instance in Gujarat 11 districts and five corporations have been surveyed in association with the local municipal officials. Areas like MP do not have a large migrant population and hence we will not depute many field volunteers in that region," said Bantel. Use of bivalent vaccine in priority areas has reduced the number of cases, he said.

In Maharashtra, the lone polio case was recorded in Malegaon in January, said Dr Kishore Chavan, State Surveillance Officer for polio. "There is a definite excitement that we can eradicate the virus this year as we have detected only 25 cases across the country. Both India and Nigeria have registered few cases this year."

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