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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Polio eradication: Time for introspection

Author(s): Chaudhary A, Sharma S, Girdhar S

Vol. 32, No. 2 (2007-04 - 2007-06)

LETTER TO EDITOR

Year : 2007 | Volume : 32 | Issue : 2 | Page : 151

Polio eradication: Time for introspection

Chaudhary A, Sharma S, Girdhar S
Department of Community Medicine, DMC and Hospital, Ludhiana, India
Date of Submission 03-Jul-2006

Correspondence Address:
Chaudhary A
Department of Community Medicine, DMC and Hospital, Ludhiana
India

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
How to cite this article:
Chaudhary A, Sharma S, Girdhar S. Polio eradication: Time for introspection. Indian J Community Med 2007;32:151
How to cite this URL:
Chaudhary A, Sharma S, Girdhar S. Polio eradication: Time for introspection. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2007 [cited 2007 Nov 30];32:151. Available from: http://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2007/32/2/151/35663

We are into the ninth year of polio eradication and billions of doses of oral polio vaccine have been administered to millions of children. In the year 1998, when the intensive pulse polio immunization (IPPI) campaign was launched, there were 1934 cases of poliomyelitis due to wild poliovirus and almost all the states were affected. The figure dropped to 268 cases in the year 2001, but the year 2002 saw a sudden increase in wild poliovirus infections. In the year 2005, there were 66 cases due to wild poliovirus, with hitherto unaffected states, such as Punjab and Gujarat, reporting cases. The situation has worsened in 2006, with 45 cases due to wild poliovirus reported until 15 th June 2006.

To start with, the motivation level in the community and among the volunteers and health workers was very high and great efforts were made to improve their training. The involvement of NGOs, local voluntary organizations, as well as the public, has been the backbone of the IPPI campaigns over the years. However, in recent years, it has been observed that because of repetition of IPPI activities year after year, community participation is on the decline and there is fatigue among the beneficiaries. The motivation level among the volunteers and health workers is at its lowest ebb. The reasons could be the increasing workload on health workers or inadequacy of the incentives being paid to them. House-to-house activity following booth activity appears to be counterproductive, with attendance at the booth showing a decline.

It has been observed that there is always a shortage of trained volunteers for carrying out IPPI activities, to compensate for which, even primary school children have been involved as volunteers. In view of these observations, we feel that community mobilization by involving NGOs and local associations like mohalla committees, shopkeepers' associations, etc., should be strengthened so as to ensure maximum coverage on booth day. The time has come to review the strategy. A panel of public health experts should work on various modalities for changing the strategy. The quality of the training imparted to volunteers should be improved. It has been observed that television is the most effective media for spreading the message of polio eradication and for changing the attitudes of people. Therefore, more stress needs to be placed on using the mass media as an effective tool for behavioral change.

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