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Years of battle yield success

- State helps India earn polio-free tag

Patna, Jan. 13: Bihar’s impeccable record of three and a half years has enabled India to earn the tag of polio-free nation.

The last polio case from the country was reported from Howrah district of Bengal in January 2011. Bihar has been able to maintain a polio-free record from a longer period given the fact that the state’s last such case was reported in September 2010.

Bihar’s achievement in polio eradication is a result of the continuous effort of the state government and World Health Organisation (WHO) and institutions like Rotary International.

About the various steps taken towards the goal, Madhup Bajpayi, regional team leader, WHO, said: “For us, the most difficult part was to reach to areas which are hard to cover. Reaching the Kosi region to carry out the polio drive among children was the most challenging as thousands of families live in basas (temporary settlements), which they are forced to leave every time after flood hits their area. To address this problem, 24 satellite offices were started in the Kosi region in 2008 for proper monitoring of the polio vaccination programme. Before starting of the satellite offices, every official who was involved in the monitoring work had to face a lot of difficulty as it used to take them many hours to reach the region. Before 2008, only 14 per cent of the Kosi region were covered under polio vaccination drive but after the starting of the satellite offices, we have been able to vaccinate 99.5 per cent children in the region — around 35 lakh in number,” said Bajpai.

Covering the migratory population under polio vaccination programme was another target set by the state government.

“This year also, we have carried out a drive in Shravani Mela with 103 teams vaccinating 1,59,916 children. In Holi this year, 730 teams vaccinated 1,83,609 children. During Chhath and Diwali, 3,176 teams took care of 10 lakh children. In Sonepur Mela this year, more than 1 lakh children were benefited from 810 teams. Of 6,000 nomad families, we have been able to cover 3,000 this year. Around 61,000 children have been vaccinated this year who are working at the brick kilns,” said Bajpayi, adding: “In 2011, 51 transit points were made at the Nepal border where 26 lakh children have been vaccinated.