The Capital seems to be inching closer to becoming polio-free, with no cases reported during the past two years. The Pulse Polio Programme was initiated in the city 17 years ago in 1994, and the last four cases were reported in 2009.
However, the state health ministry is not taking any chance and will continue with its polio surveillance programme until the disease is eradicated from the country.
“It is an achievement that is a result of joint efforts of various agencies such as the Delhi government, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, New Delhi Municipal Council, etc.,” said Dr CM Khaneju, officer on special duty for Delhi’s Pulse Polio Programme.
The World Health Organisation certifies a country as polio-free after no cases of the disease are reported from there for at least three consecutive years. Last year, the only polio case in India was reported from West Bengal in January.
To check the virus presence, the Delhi government’s health department started a two-and-a-half-year-long proactive environment surveillance project in the city in January 2010. Under the programme, sewage samples are collected from nine key locations across the Capital.
“The virus was found in a few samples, so we started a selective intensive approach towards immunising all children below five years of age and sanitation improvement in and around those areas,” said Dr Khaneju.
The migrant population in Delhi makes continuation of the polio surveillance programme imperative. Ninety-five per cent cases in last 10 years are linked with migrants.
“Our aim is to ensure no parent has to travel more than 500 metres for vaccination. Nearly 25 lakh children are vaccinated in each phase. Add to it about 3.5 lakh children that are born every year in the city. Our teams also keep a check at railway and bus stations,” said Dr AK Walia, state health minister.