Guarding against polio on Pak border

Apart from infiltration, India now has another worry from the Pakistani side on the border—the debilitating polio virus.

India has been polio-free for a year and is close to polio eradication while Pakistan reported more than 175 cases of polio last year, forcing India to keep vigil on another front.

 In order to prevent the polio virus infiltrating into the Indian side, Rajasthan Health department has set up a polio booth at the Munabao railway station in Barmer district. The staff at the booth administers polio drops to every child leaving fr­om or arriving at the station by Thar Express.

Munabao is the last station on the Indian side from where the Thar Express crosses into Pakistan every week. The train connects Karachi with Jodhpur. The “friendship train” resumed its operation in 2006 after a gap of 41 years.

“Every Saturday, our team is deployed at the station and it administers polio drops to every child below the age of five years,” chief medical officer for Barmer district Ajmal Hussain said.

“The team comprises a doctor, a nurse and a technical person. We want to ensure that polio does not come into the Indian side.” Hussain said Indian children travelling to Pakistan were also covered by this programme. “We administer drops to around 20 children every week,” he said.

In January, India declared that it had been free of new cases of polio for a year, putting it on track to end its status as a country where the virus is endemic.

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