Agartala: To make the country polio-free, the central government has asked all the border states to step up their vaccination efforts to cover all the children entering the country, a Tripura minister said Tuesday.
"Following a World Health Organisation advisory, the (central) government has asked all the border states of the country to carry out non-stop polio vaccination among the children entering the country," Tripura Health Minister Tapan Chakraborty told IANS.
He said: "We have already started polio vaccination among the children aged up to five years. Permanent polio vaccination centres have been set up at various check posts along the India-Bangladesh border with Tripura."
"Children coming into India with their parents or relatives would be administered the polio vaccine in border areas. Indian children would also be vaccinated when they enter India after visiting any country," said Gautam Debnath, district immunisation officer of West Tripura.
"This year-long vaccination programme has been undertaken to declare India a polio-free nation by the next year," Debnath told IANS.
Though the World Health Organisation (WHO) took India off the list of polio endemic countries in February 2012, it will declare it "polio free" only if no fresh case is reported till the end of this year.
Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours.
"The polio risk in our neighbouring countries is very high. Since the disease is very infectious, the Indian children, who are free from the ailment, can be affected while visiting such countries," the official added.
According to the official, large-scale population movements including children across the borders might spread the polio disease.
Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines against it. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunising every child until transmission stops.
"The organisational method has been developed in such a way that no child up to five years of age can enter India through immigration unless he or she has been administered the polio vaccine," Debnath added.
Quoting the directives of the union ministry of health and family welfare, the official said that permanent polio vaccination centres have either already been set up or being set up at all the checkposts along the India`s border with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
India has a 15,106 km land border and a 7,516 km coastline.