• 14/09/2004

Star-studded campaigns, millions spent and 20 new cases of polio to show for it. The reason being offered by Uttar Pradesh (up) is lack of adequate routine immunisation. The affected districts are Badaun, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Mau and Bulandshahar. While it is a fact that routine immunisation in the state is only between 30-50 per cent, polio experts have to say that this should not be used as an excuse for up's inability to control polio. Under routine immunisation, the vaccine is given to a child at the age of one and a half month. With eight national and sub-national rounds being implemented, any lacunae in the routine immunisation is easily covered up. Inadequacies in the state health delivery machinery used for implementing the rounds are possibly the real reason for failure.

Eradicating polio is an enormous task and environmental conditions, lack of access to health services, high birth cohort and low routine immunisation coverage are deterrants. "These issues are being tackled and figure prominently in the Reproductive and Child Health plan of the government,' says Michael Galway, chief, programme communication, unicef India.