A stitch in time
Though Nepal remained polio-free only for a short span of time (2000-2004), four cases have been detected following this period, including two new ones this year. The cases have been blamed, rightly or wrongly, on the free movement of people across the Nepal-India border. This year around 300 polio cases have been reported in India, the majority being in the bordering states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. However, Nepal can again be a polio-free country by 2008 provided the three vaccination campaigns that are scheduled from October onwards along with supplementary immunisation campaigns and strict cross-border vigilance are pursued vigorously.
Polio cripples the nervous system and can cause paralysis. It will obviously require a concerted effort on the part of relevant government agencies, the NGOs and international donors in eradicating polio. The WHO’s support and monitoring are indeed invaluable in banishing polio, as the government alone might not be able to supply polio vaccines to all the VDCs within the stipulated timeframe. The spread of polio, if not checked on time, can wreck the very physical foundation of the society. Therefore, effective border surveillance to screen polio patients trying to enter into Nepal could significantly reduce the possibility of polio transmission from across the border. As health is wealth, the important issues related to it can in no way be put on a backburner.