Govt committed to making Nepal polio-free by 2008

Kathmandu, October 14:

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Amik Sherchan today expressed the government’s commitment to make the country polio free by 2008. Minister Sherchan said this while inaugurating the first phase of the polio-free campaign on the premises of Indra Rajya Laxmi Maternity Hospital. He inaugurated the campaign by administering polio drop to newly born babies. The minister had also brought his two-and-half-year-old grand daughter for polio vaccination.

Minister Sherchan said that out patient department services would be made free in all the district hospitals from mid-November. Dr Yasovardan Pradhan, director at Child Health Division (CHD), said that the government has been addressing the problem of polio since the past 10 years. “We are hopeful of at least 80 per cent coverage on the very first day of the campaign,” said Dr Pradhan. “Due to the open border and increasing cases of polio in the bordering districts of Nepal, it is a big challenge to remain polio free,” said Dr Pradhan.

The government has set the target of providing vaccines to 4.4 million children below five years of age.

In order to achieve polio eradication by 2008, all the 11 countries of the South East Asia Region has to be polio free till the certification date. The World Health Organisation has earlier postponed it to 2008 when the South East Asia Region could not achieve the target by 2005.

Dr Shyam Raj Upreti, chief of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), CHD, said that around 78,000 volunteers had been trained for the campaign. As per the campaign, two doses of polio vaccines will be administered to each child under five at polio booths on the first day today. Health workers will organise house-to-house campaign the next day so that no child gets left out.

Four cases of polio have been detected since 2004 of which two cases were detected this year. Nepal has remained polio free for four years since 2000. The second phase of the programme will be conducted on November 18 and 19.