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Bihar Health Officials Worried As Polio Cases Soar

The significant increase in the incidence of Polio in Bihar state has led to much panic and confusion amongst the state health officials. The state stands unparalled with respect to the number of polio cases in the country. // A massive polio immunization programme for provision of polio drops to children less than 5 years of age has been launched in 10 different districts recently.

National Cadet Corps volunteers embarked on a cycle expedition Sunday that will cover 600 km in a week covering 10 districts, including Vaishali, Nawada, Gaya and Nalanda. Over 20 million children under five years will be given the polio drops.

Of the 64 cases of polio in India in 2005, the highest - 29 - were from Bihar, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 28 cases. Gujarat, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand recorded only a few cases.

On Sunday, millions of children under five years were given polio drops in a nationwide immunisation programme.

Senior health officials of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), which along with the central government launched the polio vaccination programme in 1995 in the country, are worried at the rise in polio cases.

They said that millions of rupees had been spent in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the vaccination, but eradication of the disease was far away due to non- cooperation of a section of the people. They said regular reported cases of polio in rural areas among children who had been administered the drops was also worrying.

"Fresh cases of polio in the state has become a stumbling block in polio eradication in India," a senior UNICEF official said here.

According to state health department sources, most of the polio cases were being detected in Araria, Bhagalpur, Purnea, Siwan, East Champaran, Madhepura and Sitamarhi districts.

Last year, Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss had stated that India could save at least Rs.10 billion in health expenditure if Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were rid of polio.

Over 40 pulse polio immunization rounds have been conducted in Bihar since December 1995.

--Edited IANS

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