New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed anguish over spurt in polio cases in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and directed the health ministry to closely monitor the situation and take effective steps to eradicate the disease.
The Prime Minister’s observation came at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), which decided to continue the Polio Eradication Strategy for three more years from now at an estimated cost of Rs3,204 crore.
The number of polio cases had “dropped dramatically” to 66 in 2005. However, the outbreak of the disease in Western UP and some parts of Bihar contributed to the new cases. The total number went up to 676 in 2006, 874 in 2007 and 559 in 2008, home minister P Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi.
Expressing concern over the spurt, the Prime Minister directed the health ministry to pay special attention to UP and Bihar and ensure “very close” monitoring of the situation, he said after the meeting.
“It is a matter of concern. This strategy must be very closely monitored by the Centre by paying special attention to these two states. Why was it not a success in UP and Bihar,” he said, adding that the eradication programme was already behind by five years.
“We have to eliminate it. We cannot have children afflicted by polio especially when the medicine is there. Gaps exist in the delivery mechanism,” Chidambaram said.
Out of the estimated expenditure of Rs3203.98 crore in the programme from 2009-10 to 2011-12, a total of Rs1,727 crore would come from external funding including Rs1,323 crore from the World Bank. The remaining funds would be met by the Centre, Chidambaram said.
The main objective of the strategy is to achieve the goal of zero transmission of polio and obtaining international polio-free certification for accomplishment of this goal, he said.
As per the recommendation of the India Expert Advisory Group, a total of six National Immunisation Days (NIDs), nine Sub National Immunisation Days and 40 Mop Up rounds have been planned for the three years.
Pulse Polio Immunisation, started in 1995-96, is the largest public health intervention ever undertaken anywhere in the world.
The estimated number of children, aged between 0-5 years, to be vaccinated in a NID is around 172 million. Sub-NIDs, in the high-risk states, would cover about 69 million children.
The ‘Mop Up´ immunisation rounds would be undertaken in those districts and surrounding areas where polio cases would be reported, covering about 7.5 million target population.