Crippling polio almost wiped out in Nepal

Rachana Bhattarai

Kathmandu, January 2

Nepal has almost wiped out the scourge of polio, thanks to an anti-polio campaign that began in 1995. No polio victim has been found in Nepal for the last three consecutive years, say health officials and experts.

But it has not yet been declared a polio-free country because polio is still prevalent in India, and there is the possibility of polio victims moving in and out of Nepal.

"Uttar Pradesh (UP) of India has many polio victims. It is important for India to wipe out the polio rate and then only Nepal would be declared a polio-free nation", Krishna Timilsina, secretary of Nepal National Polio-plus Committee and assistant governor

of Rotary International, district 3290, said.

A country can be declared polio free if polio cases are not recorded for three consecutive years, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) provision.

Nepal is celebrating Janaury 3 as polio day, for the eighth time since the launching of anti-polio campaign in 1995.

The global polio eradication campaign was first launched in 1985 under the aegis of the Rotary Club International in the form of National Immunisation Day. The initiative was taken by James L Bomar, Junior, the President of Rotary International, when he first saw people suffering from polio in the Philippines.

He decided to launch a worldwide polio abolition movement through the club.

Rotary International has till now spent $450 million to eradicate polio and over two million children have been administered oral polio vaccine worldwide

so far.

"When we first began this movement in Nepal, we did not get any help from the government but today we are getting help

from the government as well as the other donor agencies including United Nations Fund for Children/Nepal (UNICEF/Nepal), Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA)", says Timilsina.

Rotary Clubs of Nepal have been working to feed polio vaccine to 4.1 million children up to next year. The hilly districts of Nepal have already been covered.