In recent years, Mumbai has been on its toes fighting to keep Polio at bay. Now the first case in three years has been detected and what makes it worse is that the polio-afflicted girl, Nizali Shaikh from Govandi, a nine-year old child was immunized five years ago.
Both public health secretary Dr Vijay Satbir Singh and director of public health services V M Doke have confirmed the case. Soon after the confirmation, public health minister Vimal Mundada held a meeting with senior health, urban and rural development officials. “We discussed the specific case in detail and will now draft a new strategy to eliminate polio from Maharashtra,” Doke said.
Nizali was admitted to a private hospital in August. When she showed polio symptoms, she was shifted to a state hospital. The tests were positive.
To achieve the target of a polio-free state, there ought not to be a single case of polio in three successive years. But with the detection of three cases—the first was reported in 2005 in Malegaon and the second last month in Beed (the home town of Mundada)—Maharashtra is out of the race.
A section of senior public health officials holds the view that the virus may have travelled to Maharashtra from Uttar Pradesh, which recently witnessed a polio outbreak. “Since a large number of people migrate from UP to Maharashtra, especially to Mumbai, they might be the source of the virus. Nizali too often visited UP. As of now, the possibility of her contracting the disease there is not ruled out,” the official added.
Mundada has asked officials to identify areas in the state with a large number of UP migrants. “The minister feels we should identify such areas and immunise children below five years,” the official said. There is also a need to pressure the Centre to widen its immunisation drive to cover the entire state. At present, only nine districts and corporation areas are covered.