Considering vulnerability of migrant labourers' children to poliomyelitis, the Himachal Pradesh health department, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), will organise a special polio vaccination programme for migratory population in the state.
The three-day door-to-door campaign, which will start from Sunday, will cover 25,000 children of migrant families in 38 developmental blocks of 11 districts, which have been identified as high-risk areas. Lahaul and Spiti have been excluded from the campaign.
“Children in the age group of 0 to 5 will be administered polio vaccine at their doorstep. Over 150 teams comprising 400 health workers will visit the slums and houses of settled migrants in urban, semi-urban and rural areas in the identified blocks,” said GP Dwivedi, WHO coordinator of the campaign.
“The bivalent polio vaccine, which is more effective than trivalent, is being used for the first time,” Dwivedi said.
He said the high-risk areas had been identified on the basis of the density of these high-risk groups (migrant labourers) and a task force had been constituted in each district under the chairmanship of deputy commissioners.
“The campaign will be run in two phases and preparation for the first phase has been completed. The dates for the second round will be announced soon,” he said.
“The migrant families are being targeted as they are more vulnerable to poliomyelitis and more likely to be missed by regular immunisation and surveillance activities,” Dwivedi said.
“The immunisation teams will continue to track uncovered children till June 18 and a follow-up round will be held soon,” he said.
He said the global polio eradication initiative had reduced the cases of polio by more than 99% and number of countries with endemic polio from 125 to three. “India is polio-free since two years. The last case was of a 2-year-old girl of West Bengal reported on January 13, 2011,” Dwivedi said.
“However, for certification of polio eradication, polio-free status is to be maintained for three years. So, there remains no room for complacency,” he added.