Though Nepal remained polio-free only for a short span — from 2000 to 2004 — four cases were detected, including two this year. This explains the necessity of sustaining the National Polio Immunisation Campaign that was launched nationwide on December 23-24. Some parents, especially in the far-flung areas, are reluctant to carry their children all the way to the immunisation centres while some affluent and urban ones feel shy of going to the government booths. Of prime importance here is the role of the media and medical personnel in educating the parents about the dangers of missing out on polio drops.

As polio is an infectious viral disease that causes paralysis and cripples the central nervous system, only a concerted effort on the part of all concerned — government agencies, NGOs and international donors — can help in eradicating it. Moreover, the need for vigilance always exists. The possibility of cross-border transmission cannot be entirely ruled out as India reported around 300 polio cases this year alone, most of them in bordering states of UP and Bihar. However, Nepal can soon become polio-free provided it vigorously pursues the vaccination campaigns. But the important role of supplementary immunisation campaigns and stricter border vigilance should not be underestimated. A complete cure for the polio-afflicted is not only too cumbersome but almost impossible, what even the few patients who can afford the high cost of treatment and operations can expect is a better condition than before. The focus, therefore, should be on prevention.