Pledge to eradicate polio
By Shamila Sharma
Patna: On Sunday April 15, all partners of polio eradication in Bihar took a pledge. In the final push for eradication, they vowed to do their best to ensure a polio free state for the children.
“We, the partners in polio eradication, are committed to wipe out polio from all corners of Bihar to ensure a better future for our children” read the oath.
Taking the lead, was noted singer, actor and director of regional Bhojpuri films Manoj Tiwari, who has been promoting polio immunization in his programmes.
Organised by UNICEF and the Indian Academy of Pediatricians (IAP), the meeting was attended by members of IAP and Indian Medical Association, two large bodies of private practitioners in the country, who had come together for the first time to intensify battle against polio.
“We need to target the youngest children at the earliest, at a pace faster than the polio virus transmission. Doctors can play an important role in the programme by convincing parents about the need for polio immunization,” IAP President Dr Naveen Thacker said.
IMA pledged the support of its 175,000 members in the eradication effort. Both IMA and IAP reiterated faith in the oral polio vaccine and promised to ensure that their clients take the campaign vaccine.
UNICEF, which plays a strategic role in communication and building coalition partners for the polio eradication programme, would expand its social mobilization activities to almost all districts of the state to further increase community awareness on polio, Mr Bijaya Rajbhandari, State Representative, UNICEF Office of Bihar, said.
The social mobilization network (SMNet), with its sub-regional, district and block level presence, raises awareness levels about the need for polio vaccination and provides key support in the mobilization of hard-to-reach children and families. At present, SMNet is spread over 27 districts, with a workforce of 232. It is supported by 4,000 NCC cadets and 45,372 anganwadi workers, who mobilize the community for polio eradication at the grass root level.
The medical practitioners used the forum to clarify their doubts. Echoing the queries put by the community, they enquired if the programme was scientifically sound and the vaccine successful, why children with multiple doses were still getting polio, what should be the gap between campaign medicine and polio vaccine given during regular immunization?
While endorsing vaccine efficacy, Dr Thacker, said Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were probably the toughest areas of the world for polio eradication because of a combination of factors like high density population, poor sanitation etc. In this situation, a higher dose of the vaccine was required to build immunity against polio virus.
The monovalent oral polio vaccine (mopv1) being used in polio campaigns was the best possible tool available for polio eradication, he said.
“We can positively eradicate polio with a few consistently good rounds,” Dr Hamid Jafri, from WHO-SEARO said.
The experts said the programme was moving in the right direction. One indicator was, no P1 case had been reported from virus endemic areas of western Uttar Pradesh in the last three months.
The coming months will also be good as the immunity of the kids are already up due to the outbreak last year and better coverage in the last few rounds.
The Minister assured that with sustained and determined efforts of all, “we will see polio eradication and that will be a proud day for us”.