Call it Haji effect or a landmark achievement of the Health Department, as many as 243 highly resistant families in the slums of Kareli finally allowed the polio teams during the current drive to administer polio drops to their children.
These were amongst those 525 families identified in Kareli area, who 'violently' resisted the health department's teams from vaccinating their children against polio virus, during the past eight to ten polio immunisation drives.
With special strategy to cover the resistant families in the 12 high-risk areas, the health department's team managed to immunise 35 children of 17 resistant families, in the past week. About 226 resistant families were already covered in the last round of polio immunisation drive held in the second week of March, 2007.
"We have still 282 resistant families to cover. And as long as their children are not vaccinated against polio virus, they carry the potential risk of spreading the poliomyelitis virus to other healthy children," said Dr Kalim Akmal, Nodal Officer (Urban) Polio Immunisation Programme.
Dr Akmal said most of these resistant families live in an unhygienic conditions due to which the polio virus thrives in these areas. "But still it is a very tough job to convince these families, as they believe that polio vaccine will lead to certain health disorders in their children. Even today also many families closed their doors the moment they saw the polio team. Some of them even issued death warnings," he added.
Dr Akmal said due to excessive heat and one-to-one approach they manage to cover only eight-ten families in a day. "Apart from the Hajis, we also need the help of police and district administration in covering these families," he said.
Dr Akmal said they have also identified 12 high-risk centres in Allahabad in which ten centres were located in Kareli alone. These centres include Sultanpur Bhawa, Slaughter House, D Block, Bihari Slum, Gausnagar, Dariyabad and Azadnagar. "However, some of the team members including immunisation officer ON Trivedi took initiative to visit these areas and convince families to immunise their children against polio," he said.
It is worth mentioning that the World Health Organisation (WHO) headquarters at Geneva, had also instructed the Health Department, Allahabad to prepare a special strategy to cover the children of over 500 resistant families in Kareli area.