In what appears to be a first in Uttar Pradesh, the polio drive has sent a clear message to the people: refusing polio drops will cost them dear.
At least two people in the district have had their ration cards cancelled and lost power supply to their homes for saying no to the immunisation of their children against the disease.
Sub-divisional magistrate Raghuvir Yadav ordered immediate disconnection of power supply to the house of one Hafiz in Manechha village as well as cancellation of his ration card. Hafiz had refused to let his children be immunized on August 10. The administration's tough stand followed the detection of a polio case in the nearby Dalit Basti in Sondhi village recently.
The same punishment was meted out to Ayub of Mohalla Manpur of Sabarhad for refusing to let his children be immunised. Other people were warned of similar action.
A Health Department team, along with the SDM and Block Development Officer Ravindravir Yadav, visited a number of villages on the sixth day of the follow-up to the Pulse Polio drive following reports of resistance to the current round of immunisation, which began on August 5.
When they heard of the two cases, they immediately took action against the erring parents.
Electricity Department officials accompanied the team. After locating many of those who had earlier refused polio drops, the team succeeded in immunising 60 children in 15 villages.
Polio cases are rampant in UP, especially in the Muslim community because many believe the polio vaccine leads to sterilisation. This year, 79 per cent of the 88 polio cases reported by the state till July 20 were among Muslims. Roping in Muslim clerics to spread awareness has helped matters in western UP, and the plan is being implemented elsewhere too. India — which plans to eliminate polio by 2008-end — has reported 114 cases so far this year.