Polio coverage remained sub-optimal during the past year in Islamabad, as revealed by an independent evaluation report on the post-polio campaign conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to the evaluation report obtained by The Express Tribune, from January 2011 to January 2012 the polio coverage remained unsatisfactory in terms of covering the required percentage of children in the union councils of the capital, which remained below 95% during national and sub-national campaigns.
Meanwhile, administration and health officials of the capital denied the findings of the report, and said the polio coverage in the capital remained up to the mark. Talking to The Express Tribune, Deputy Commissioner Amir Ali Ahmed said the finding of the report was inaccurate as the overall coverage of rural areas remained at 106% and urban areas over 95%.
He added that WHO used the finger marking methodology which did not help generate correct statistics. “In this methodology, the fingers of the children who are being vaccinated are being marked by a marker which could easily be erased while taking a bath. Instead of this they would have better used parent recall methodology for analysis.”
Despite these claims, a table in the report showed that the overall average coverage of the polio drive in Islamabad was well below 95%, with December 2011 showing coverage of 40%, while the highest average was recorded as 85% in March 2011. Coverage in the Capital Development Authority was dismal as well, as June and December recorded a paltry 39%, while the highest was recorded at 81% in April 2011.
When contacted, Dr Elias Durry, the senior coordinator for WHO’s polio eradication activities in Pakistan said that the findings of the January evaluation clearly reflected the overall coverage of polio in the capital which was sub-optimal. He mentioned that the monitoring methodology that was utilised were the same that the organisation used throughout the country. Furthermore, it used three different models to cross-check findings that included post-campaign monitoring, market survey, and Lot Quality Assurance Survey (LQAS).
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2012.