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 India records substantial decline in polio cases

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PostSubject: India records substantial decline in polio cases   Fri Sep 21, 2007 12:06 am

India has made substantial progress in curbing the spread of polio with
just 82 cases reported in the first half of this year compared to 676
last year, says WHO.



Of the 82 polio cases till June 25, over 50 cases were from Uttar Pradesh and 17 from Bihar, it says.



'The total global cases of polio in 2007 is 213 compared with 585 for the same period in 2006,' said a WHO report.



'The exhaustive immunisation drive by India is quite encouraging. The
government, WHO, NGOs and religious leaders are working in tandem to
battle the disease,' said V. Cherian, a senior health coordinator of
the UN body.



Polio eradication programme authorities say though Ghaziabad on the
outskirts of Delhi reported six cases last week, people in the national
capital should not panic.



'Last year Ghaziabad district alone had 24 cases of polio but this year
we have just eight. Moreover all the eight cases are due to P-3 virus,
which generally remains restricted to the region,' an official of the
polio eradication programme told IANS.



He said unlike last year, the number of P-1 virus cases - the more
virulent variety - is less. This year, of the 82 cases reported, 44
were of the P-3 virus and the rest of P-1 virus. P-2 virus polio was
eradicated globally by 1999.



According to Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, the core districts of
western Uttar Pradesh, where the alarming polio outbreak occurred last
year, have not had a single case of P-1 virus for the last six months -
the longest period so far.



'Though the type 3 polio virus cases are up slightly, they remain
restricted to the region. The poliovirus transmission has also been low
in Bihar,' Ramadoss told IANS last week.



The minister said frequent immunisation rounds using a monovalent polio
vaccine in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had checked the spread of the
disease this year. The focus has been on reaching the youngest
children, especially newborns, in the highest risk areas.



'We and our state governments are telling villagers to take special
care of sanitation. Polio is a health menace and has nothing to do with
any religion and we appeal to all religious leaders to lend their
support to wipe out polio from India,' he said.



The ministry has also asked the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh governments to
engage regularly with their district administrations to keep a tab on
the immunisation drive and curb any irregularities.



It's not India alone where polio cases are on the decline. In four
endemic countries - India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria - only 179
cases have been reported this year as against 539 cases during the same
period in 2006.



In Afghanistan, three cases of polio have surfaced this year as against
13 in 2006 and in Somalia eight cases have surfaced as against 25
during the same period last year. India's neighbours like Bangladesh
and Nepal have not reported even a solitary case.
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