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By Express News Service – BANGALORE I Published: 20th January 2014 08:30 AM I Last Updated: 20th January 2014 11:51 AM
The first phase of the National Pulse Polio Campaign kicked off in the State on Sunday. Even with the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring India a polio-free country and there being no cases of polio reported in Karnataka since 2004, authorities are doing their best to keep children in the State safe from the ailment.
On Sunday, the first day of the campaign, over 83.56 per cent of children below the age of five were immunised in BBMP limits. While the aim was to reach and immunise 6,50,592 children in the area, the officials administered vaccination to 5,43,673 children. There were 2,094 polio booths with 8,376 volunteers. Over the next two days, the volunteers will go door-to-door administering the vaccine to make sure not a single child is left out.
Health Minister U T Khader inaugurated the campaign by administering polio drops to a few children at HSIS Gosha Hospital. He said: “India has emerged as a polio-free nation, thanks to 19 years of anti-polio campaigns. The Health Department has set up 32,000 Pulse Polio booths all over the State to cover children up to the age of five.”
He appealed to the people to cooperate with the Department of Health and Family Welfare’s initiative to maintain Karnataka’s status as a polio-free State in the future too.
The State is looking at complete eradication of polio and people should take precautionary measures when they visit polio endemic countries, he said, while lauding the efforts of Rotary Club and various other NGOs towards polio eradication and awareness in the State.
Madan Gopal, principal secretary to the Department of Health and Family Welfare, said the government is concerned about the chances of polio spreading from travellers who come from countries like Syria, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. “We have drawn up a programme to administer polio vaccination to people coming from these places at the airport,” he said.
Madan Gopal said, “82.13 per cent of children below five years of age were covered in the urban areas and 88.31 per cent of the target was achieved in the rural parts of the State. We hope that the number will increase in the next couple of days.”
While districts like Bijapur, Bagalkot and Chamarajanagar showed improvement compared to previous years, Gulbarga continued to lag behind.
“Only 74.75 per cent of children were covered in the district despite organising awareness programmes,” Gopal said. Gulbarga also showed a higher figure than the urban areas.
“Rural parts showed that 79.73 per cent of children were immunised, whereas urban areas lagged behind at 67.96 per cent,” he added. Udupi recorded the highest figure with 95.50 per cent.
Minister rides ambulance-bike
On Sunday, Health and Family Welfare Minister U T Khader rode an ambulance bike, which the Health Department is likely to launch soon, from his residence to HSIS Gosha Hospital. The government is planning to deploy such bikes to attend to accident victims. Ambulance bikes can reach the accident spot much faster than bigger vehicles due to traffic congestion, said an official. Khader, however, said they have not taken any decision on using such bikes. “As of now, it is just an idea, and it still needs a lot of planning,’’ he said.