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Malegaon new polio epicentre

Records four out of five cases reported in Maharashtra,all P-1.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
August 1, 2011 3:54:06 am

While Uttar Pradesh has not reported a single case of polio in the past 15 months,Malegaon in Maharashtra has emerged as the new area of concern in the fight against the crippling disease.

Incidentally,like in UP some years back,the spurt in Maharashtra also seems to be linked to rumours that the polio drop can lead to impotency.

Bhiwandi in Maharashtra is also facing similar resistance to the polio drop,but Malegaon is serious cause for concern for health experts because four out of five cases of polio reported from Maharashtra last year were from Malegaon. Bhiwandi,on the other hand,last reported a case in 2008. Also,the virus in all four cases of polio in Malegaon was P-1,the most virulent.

“Out of four lakh-odd families in Malegaon,around 900 opposed the polio drop in the last immunisation drive about a month back. About 350 of these families have children who have not received a single polio drop. Others had taken the polio drop at least once and then started resisting it,” said Ashok Mahajan,trustee of the Rotary Foundation which is a partner in the polio eradication campaign.

“In UP and Bihar,which were epicentres for the polio virus,the need is to continue with widescale coverage of the vaccination drive. There are occasional instances of resistance to the polio drop,but that is not because of some myth but because people want some basic civic amenities. These things can be solved easily,” said Mahajan.

However,the circumstances in Malegaon and Bhiwandi are different,said Mahajan. People there are resisting the polio drop because of “myths and rumours that the drop would make their children impotent. This is similar to what we had faced in UP some years back. No other part of the country is facing such resistance now’’.

Mahajan said they were concentrating more on Malegaon because it had reported four type-1 polio cases and the fear is that if resistance increased then the virus might spread to other parts of the country through migrant labourers. “Our focus is specifically on Malegaon’’,he said.

On the pattern of UP,they had formed a committee of Muslim clerics to help create awareness about the need for polio vaccine last year,but there was need for more effective interventions.

The polio eradication partners,along with the local civic body,were now planning to form mohalla committees,which will have teachers,policemen,doctors and other educated people to convince such people,Mahajan said.

Meanwhile,in UP,they have decided to organise polio vaccination camps in “dargahs” across the state,especially during Urs and religious festivals.

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