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Eradicate polio, provide FRO to afflicted children: President

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 8 (UNI) President A P J Abdul Kalam today called upon the health ministry to eliminate the scourge of polio from the country and provide rehabilitation measures for those already aflicted with the crippling disease.

Inaugurating the National Immunisation Day by administering Polio Vaccines to children at Rashtrapati Bhavan here, Dr Kalam hoped that the disease would be eliminated at the earliest. In the meanwhile, light weight calipers or Floor Reaction Orthosis (FRO) should be provided to all the children afflicted with polio.

Seeing the children crying when the polio drops were administered, the President urged the health officials to make the polio drops sweet in taste.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss sought the President's personal initiative with the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar government to upscale the disease elimination in these two ''problem states''.

Dr Ramadoss said that the goal of polio elimination could not be achieved by 2005 due to these two states from where the bulk of polio cases came. This year also, of the 16 cases of polio reported so far, 12 were from Uttar Pradesh and four from Bihar.

He said the government had spent Rs 1000 crore last year on polio eradication programme, but the still the disease had not been wiped out from the country. India is among the only six countries across the globe which have cases of polio.

The others include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Niger.

The Health Minister, however, hoped to eliminate the disease by the end of 2006. He said apart from the National Immunisation programmes in April and May across the country, four sub-national immunisation programmes would be launched in UP, Bihar and surrounding areas for polio eradication.

This would help the government to divert Rs 1000 crore annually being spent on polio to other disease like Japanese Encephalitis.

He also lauded the role played by UNICEF, Rotary International, WHO and other international and local NGO and institutes in polio eradication programme.

Health Secretary P K Hota said that apart from polio, the ministry was also increasing the routine immunisation programme in the country. It was also taking steps for the rehabilitation of polio afflicted children.

UNICEF India Representative C Adorna said the UNICEF was hopeful that following the example of Egypt, India would also eradicate polio soon. He said that migrating population of children who lack immunisation was the major reason for persisting infection in the country and focusing on that issue would make the programme more successful. Lauding the political will of the government and assistance provided by the civil society, he said the disease would definitely be eradicated in the near future. Meanwhile, Afghanistan and Pakistan are also making efforts to eradicate the crippling disease.

UNI AJ RR BS2003

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