Smarting from the setback to the anti-polio drive this year, the government has decided to launch a nationwide immunisation campaign in February 2007. The campaign will target 17 crore children and aims to attack the poliovirus during winter— when it is usually dormant.
Last year, the immunization campaign was conducted in May, which was one of the reasons for the spurt in polio cases. As against 66 cases in 2005, 610 cases have been reported this year.
“The idea is to eliminate polio from this country and attacking the virus when it is dormant will be effective. When the virus gets active, during summers when it is hot and humid, it is often too late to act. There should not be too much gap between two polio rounds,” said J Wenger, Head of the National Polio Surveillance Project, World Health Organisation.
The campaign will be launched by President APJ Abdul Kalam on January 7 and 17 crore children between the age group of 0-5 years will be vaccinated.
With 13 fresh polio cases being reported last week in the country, including one in Delhi, the total number of children afflicted with the disease has gone up to 610 this year.
The one case reported from Delhi is from Rohini, where eight-month-old Raja was detected with the paralytic disease.
With this, the total number of polio cases in Delhi has gone up to six.
The officer said the immunisation campaign, which will be carried out in all states and union territories, will help in controlling the virus from circulating during the peak season of September-November.
Following the India Expert Advisory Group advice, the government is planning to use the monovalent oral polio vaccine in areas which reported more cases.
Of the 610 polio cases reported this year in the country, 501 alone are from Uttar Pradesh.
Next comes Bihar, where 50 children were detected with polio this year.
The other cases were reported from Haryana (16), Uttaranchal (13), Punjab (7), Maharashtra (5), Gujarat (3), Madhya Pradesh (3), Assam (2), and one each from Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Jharkhand.