The nationwide immunisation campaign for polio eradication will be held on January 20 and February 24.
The drive for this year is crucial for India to enter the list of polio-free countries. India will be tagged polio-free if no fresh cases are reported till 2014.
“We have put all possible measures in place this year since it is important for India to attain the polio-free status. If there are no fresh cases till 2014, India will complete three years without any fresh cases thus making it eligible for the status. The main challenge in Kerala is to target the migrant children here. Since these children are often left unidentified it will be a challenge for us,” said district Reproductive and Child Health Officer (RCHO) Shanta Kumari.
The last case of new polio case was reported in 2011. After India completed one year without any fresh cases, the World Health Organisation had removed India from the list of the polio-endemic countries. There are a total of three polio-endemic countries in the world now, including India’s neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan. This again is a continuous challenge in India’s attempt to join the polio-free countries of the world.
The health department targets a total of 2,27,694 children below five years in the state. “Even after the two days of immunisation campaign, our volunteers would be visiting houses to identify and immunise those children who have been left out. Apart from the migrant children, there are some sections which refuse to take the prevention owing to various reasons,” said the RCHO.
Meanwhile, the officer added that even if India attain the polio-free status, there is no certainty that the disease would not stage a comeback. “There are several countries like China where after a gap of decades, new polio cases resurfaced. As such the immunisation campaigns will continue,” she said.