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At last some soul searching

RESISTANCE BY members of the Muslim Community, tired vaccinators fudging immunization data, ineffective vaccines, poor hygienic conditions in several localities and missed children in each immunization round will be on the agenda when the State Health and Family Welfare Department officials meet Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Thursday to discuss why a large number of polio cases have been reported in Uttar Pradesh.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2006 01:40 IST

RESISTANCE BY members of the Muslim Community, tired vaccinators fudging immunization data, ineffective vaccines, poor hygienic conditions in several localities and missed children in each immunization round will be on the agenda when the State Health and Family Welfare Department officials meet Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Thursday to discuss why a large number of polio cases have been reported in Uttar Pradesh.

With the polio graph maintaining upward trend (269 cases) the Health and Family Welfare Department officials have started analysing the immunization drive.

“Earlier there was open resistance among members of the Muslim Community, now it’s hidden resistance among the Muslims”, said a Family Welfare Department officer.

The Family Welfare Department had now increased surveillance of each immunization drive to ensure that maximum number of children were administered polio drops.

But to their amazement the officials had found that both the vaccinators and the resisting parents had come to a mutual understanding. The parents allowed the vaccinator to ink the nail of the child without administering the polio drop, said the Family Welfare Department officer.

“To check this malpractice we will urge the Union Government to start injectable vaccination instead of oral drops”, the officials said.

DG Medical Health and Family Welfare Dr B Nath said the polio vaccination drive was continuing since 1995. Five-immunization drives each year was finally taking its toll on the spirit and dedication of the vaccinators moving in the remote areas.

In several cases it was found that they had submitted wrong data of vaccination. The children were not immunized but on papers it was mentioned that they were administered polio drops, Dr Nath lamented.

Family Welfare Minister Ahmed Hasan said vaccination should not be the concern of only one department. “I have urged the State Government to ensure participation of all government departments to make the drive successful,” he said.

In its report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has mentioned that in each round around 8 to 10 per cent children were missed. In July drive 8.1 per cent children were not administered polio drops, in June the corresponding figure was 8 per cent and in May it was 9.5 per cent. On September 10 only 42.54 per cent children visited booths to get the polio drops, the report said.

Regional Coordinator of WHO Dr SK Pathyarch said if one child carrying polio virus missed the dose chances of the virus taking other children in its grip was high.

Officers of the Family Welfare Department are worried over the report that the children, who were administered the vaccine around dozen times, were also found infected with polio virus. Doubts have been raised over the quality of the vaccine.

Family Welfare Minister Ahmed Hasan said that he had already urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) to test the quality of the vaccine.

According to WHO and UNICEF officials focus should be also on sanitation. It was found that children infected with polio virus were in the grip of other diseases and their immunity level was low.

They suggested that the local administration should check the practice of defecating in the open.

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