The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Polio plagues Murshidabad

Behrampore, Sept. 18: The pulse polio programme seems to have had little impact in Murshidabad, particularly in Jangipur, where incidence of the viral, communicable disease is on the rise.

“We have had 13 cases of polio in the sub-division in recent times. Now we have come to know that four more children have contracted the disease, and one of them has died,” said Jangipur sub-divisional health officer Ashis Roy.

Alarmed at the detection of the 17 cases, the district health administration held an emergency meeting at the circuit house here today. Health and family welfare commissioner K.P.S. Kahlon met with the chief medical officer (CMO), the district magistrate and the zilla parishad chairman to finalise a strategy to wipe out polio from the district.

“We have decided to launch a door-to-door campaign in the Jangipur area. Health workers will administer the oral polio vaccine to each child,” said district magistrate Manoj Panth.

An awareness campaign has also been planned with the help of local teachers, clubs, imams and political party functionaries. Panth said it was imperative that people be told that every child below five should be administered the polio vaccine. “We will carry out this programme on September 29 and 30 in Jangipur sub-division.”

Jangipur’s problem has been persisting for some time despite the pulse polio campaign. Roy said doctors at the state-run health centres did not take any chances and sent children’s stool for examination whenever they suspected polio. Some test reports were awaited, Roy added.

The state health department is taking a serious view of the problem in Jangipur as it is one of the major reasons why the state cannot be declared polio-free. Even New Delhi has issued a warning that Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal were becoming polio “reservoirs”.

It has pointed out that most of these cases were being reported from areas dominated by the minority community, and insinuated that the state government was lax in creating awareness in the community to dispel the fear that polio drops led to infertility later in life.

State health department sources said another polio case had been detected in Murarai in Birbhum district. In the adjoining Pakur area of Jharkhand, five polio cases have been traced by health workers, sources said.

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