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Battle Against Polio Far from Over in Bihar

Patna: The battle against polio is far from over in Bihar, which recorded 51 new cases in 2006.//

"The situation is not good. New polio cases surfaced in the state even though millions were spent on a series of immunization drives," said a health official.

Unofficial sources put the figure of polio cases at over 60.

In December alone, around six new cases of the viral were detected in Kishanganj, Purnea, East Champaran and Sitamarhi districts.

"Till September 2006 only 20 polio cases were detected. But in the last three months, the numbers shot up," the official said.

According to official records, eight rounds of immunization drives were carried out in the year gone by but results are poor.

Bihar reported 30 polio cases in 2005, down from 39 in 2004. The number was only 18 in 2003, far below the 121 in 2002.

Bihar has the second highest number of polio cases in India after Uttar Pradesh (503 cases). British experts say that poor sanitation and high population density are the key obstacles to eradicating the virus in the two states.

India's annual budget for 2006-07 to fight polio is over Rs.10 billion but detection of new cases, especially in the two states, shows that it still has a long way to go to wipe out the disease completely.

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