Trudging up miles of rugged, snow-covered inhospitable terrain of the trans-Himalayas just to administer two drops of polio to tiny tots in the interiors of Himachal Pradesh is, to put it mildly, a mountainous task.
Health officials say their staff will have to traverse at least three days on foot from the road-head to the remotest hamlet in Kangra district for the nationwide-intensified Pulse Polio Immunisation (IPPI) programme Jan 19-21.
“For reaching Bara Bhangal, the health staff has to start the journey from Baijnath sometimes three-four days in advance,” Chief Medical Officer Dhruv Gurung told IANS Sunday.
The journey for Bara Bhangal, part of the Dhauladhar Wildlife Sanctuary which remains cut off from the rest of the world for over six months due to heavy snow, is 65 km from the last village that is connected by road.
Gurung said a team of health workers, not more than two, would leave anytime now for Bara Bhangal.
“We are monitoring weather on a day-to-day basis. In the past few days, the entire region experienced heavy snow. If such conditions continue, it won’t be possible to send a team there,” he added.
Bara Bhangal has a population of around 400 people and during winter most of them migrate to Bir village in Baijnath tehsil, near Palampur town, some 250 km from state capital Shimla.
“As per our estimate, there are one or two children (between the age group of 0-5) still in the village. If the immunization is not possible this month, it will be carried out next month,” the chief medical officer said.
On earlier occasions also the teams trekked to the village to administer the polio drops to the small children.
Sheep and cattle rearing is the main occupation of the locals who are nomads.
Bara Bhangal is accessible on foot through the Thamsar Pass, located at an attitude of 4,700 metres.
Last month the state election commission shifted the lone polling booth at Bara Bhangal to Bir, citing administrative reasons for changing the booth.