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Strengthen political oversight to eradicate polio: Ramadoss


New Delhi : Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss Wednesday urged Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – the two states accounting for 90 percent of fresh polio cases in India – to strengthen "political oversight" to fight and eradicate the disease from the country by 2008.

So far in 2007, India has reported 60 new cases of polio of which Uttar Pradesh accounts for 36 and Bihar 15. Last year India reported 676 cases of which a whopping 548 were from Uttar Pradesh alone.

Addressing a meeting of state health ministers on polio, Ramadoss asked Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to "strengthen political oversight and engagement to further improve and sustain the quality of the immunization rounds".

"Our job now is to contain the disease from spreading further and to safeguard the significant progress made over the last few months.

"We can do that with the strategy we have in place. The ministers today gave their pledge to ensure that no children are left un-immunized in the crucial next few polio campaigns and ensure achieving zero polio transmission by 2008," Ramadoss said.

Regular interactions with district magistrates and health staff would be very productive to ensure the best quality programme, he said.

As per the recommendation of the Indian Expert Advisory Group (IEAG), immunization rounds would be held in the high-risk areas in June, August and September followed by two rounds later in the year.

The minister said the core districts of western Uttar Pradesh, responsible for the outbreak, have not reported a single case of Type-1 poliovirus for the last six months, the longest period in recent times.

"Though the Type-3 poliovirus cases are up slightly, they remain geographically restricted. The poliovirus transmission has also been low in Bihar."

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Panabaka Lakshmi, health ministers from Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana and Gujarat and senior officials representing the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan attended the meeting.