New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil on Saturday launched the 2011 pulse polio programme, administering polio drops to seven children at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Underlining the success of the programme, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the last six months have reported the lowest number of pulse polio cases since polio eradication efforts started in the country.
"The last six months have seen the lowest number of polio cases during the high transmission season of any year since polio eradication efforts were started in India. Only 42 polio cases have been detected in 2010 (till Jan 3, 2011) compared to 741 cases of polio in 2009," Azad said after the programme was launched.
India has reported a drop of 94 percent in polio cases with only 42 cases being reporter in 2010 as compared to 741 in 2009.
The bivalent oral polio vaccine, which was launched last year, is effective on both type 1 and 3 of the virus making the vaccine more effective.
Azad added that over four million children below the age of five will be given polio drops under the programme.
"Six polio campaigns will be conducted in the high risk areas between March and November 2011. The areas will include parts of UP, Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Gujarat," he said.
"A rapid response task force is being constituted to plan and conduct aggressive mopping up vaccination in response to any polio virus that is detected anywhere in the country henceforth so that all chains of polio transmission are finally broken," he added.