Polio vaccine cripples woman's life in Gulbarga

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Gulbarga, Oct 26: For 22-year-old Rukma Bai, life has become difficult in the land of giants, like Jonnathan Swift portrayed Brobdingnag in his work 'Gulliver's travels'.

But the people of Udhunoor village on the outskirts of the city are no giants and neither does Rukma lives in a fantasy world. The tragedy in Rukma's life is that despite being fully grown-up, she is merely two feet tall.

The world has been very harsh on the 'tiny' woman, who was crippled after her mother took her to a hospital 21 years ago for a polio vaccination.

''Rukma was administered polio vaccine when she was nine-month old and this changed her life. Immediately after the medication, she developed changes. The polio injection reacted adversely and ruined the life of my daughter,'' her mother Santha Bai told the sources.

This left Rukma mentally retarded, deaf, dumb and physically disabled. Now she looks and acts like an infant, as she has neither mentally nor physically grown according to her age. She crawls like an infant and eats only if she is hand-fed.

Showing a scar on Rukma's hand, her mother said the vaccination was given at a Government hospital. After that she got fever and the disastrous ill-effects followed. This inhibited her growth mentally and physically, she added.

''I took Rukma to the Government hospital many times. But the doctors could not offer any effective treatment. Now my daughter fully depends on me. I can serve her as long as I alive. Who will take care of her after my death?,'' the worried mother asked.

The parents of the girl are poor farm labourers and cannot afford any treatment in private hospitals. Adding to their woes, the authorities have denied the family a Below Poverty Line(BPL) ration card due to some technical reasons.

Though the village is located only four km from the city, surprisingly, no official or political leader had visited the family and offered any help.

When contacted, village Panchayath President Shyamal Rao Patil said he had ''come to know'' about the plight of the girl and the family. The officials concerned will be informed about their ventilated grievances, she added.


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