India, Nepal, Bangladesh in joint drive against polio

March 27th, 2008 - 11:52 am ICT by admin  

By Prashant K. Nanda
New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) India, the leading polio prevalent country in the world, has forged an alliance with neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh to control the spread of the disease in the subcontinent. “We are strengthening our cross-border coordination with Nepal and Bangladesh to contain the disease within the region,” said Hamid Zafari, chief project manager of the National Polio Surveillance Project (NPSP).

“We have noticed five cases of P3 polio virus in Nepal in the recent past and these cases are imported from polio prevalent Bihar,” Zafari told IANS in an exclusive interaction.

“Polio in India is a threat to countries across the globe. Polio anywhere is a global threat.”

NPSP is a joint effort by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Indian health ministry to contain polio in India. It records polio data and draws strategies to wipe out the disease.

Zafari said that WHO’s regional offices in the three neighbouring countries were holding regular meetings and medical officers in border areas were being trained for handling the polio eradication drive.

“We have been putting up special camps at crossing points on the India-Nepal border. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar contribute 95 percent of polio cases in India and are very close to Nepal geographically. Hence, a synchronized effort was necessary to stop the spread of the disease across the border.

“Security personnel and medical officers of border areas are aware of the local situation and know about the campaign. A joint effort by the border districts is feasible and effective from both human resource mobilisation and logistical resources point of view,” he said.

He also said that in 2005 Type 1 poliovirus strains found in western Uttar Pradesh were traced in Angola and Congo.

In 2007, India recorded 866 cases of polio as against 676 in 2006 and just 66 cases the previous year. Of the 866 cases reported last year, 495 were from Bihar and 339 from Uttar Pradesh.

So far this year, 150 cases of polio have been detected in India of which 127 were from Bihar, 20 from Uttar Pradesh and one each from Haryana, Delhi and Maharashtra.

Zafari said that India has started helping Nepal in dissecting the gene sequence of polioviruses found there.

“The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Entrovirus Research Centre in Mumbai has started receiving cases from Nepal. Earlier, Nepal used to send cases for gene sequencing to a laboratory in Bangkok,” he said.

Recently, Nepal had carried out a round of immunisation across 20 districts bordering India March 15 and 16. The next round of the polio drive in Indo-Nepal border districts is scheduled for April 26 and 27.

He however said that India was doing a “very good job” to end the polio menace and a concerted immunisation drive had led to a drastic slide in the number of P1 cases. The P1 virus is touted as the most virulent strain that spreads faster and paralyses children five times more than the P3 virus.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health Science |