In an unprecedented move, the capital city’s civic bosses admitted on Friday to their failure in implementing the largest health initiative against polio. The officials who were responsible for making it a success were changed.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) chief expressed his dissatisfaction at the performance of the CDA’s Directorate of Health Services (DHS) and conflicting reports on the number of children vaccinated.
CDA Chairman Farkhand Iqbal took over the monitoring of the polio campaign in urban areas of the capital replacing Dr Hassan Urooj at a meeting at CDA head offices on Friday. The Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Shahnaz Wazir Ali, CDA chairman Health Services Director Dr Urooj and representatives of international donor agencies attended the meeting.
According to Iqbal, Dr Urooj was unable to make the polio campaign a success despite being provided with all the technical, human and financial support he had requested.
“Since Dr Urooj is incapable of supervising polio campaigns, I have taken charge and I will try my best to ensure that every child in the urban areas of the capital is vaccinated against this crippling disease,” Iqbal told The Express Tribune.
He claimed that he had released over Rs80 million to the health directorate for the previous polio campaign as requested by Dr Urooj but a number of children had reportedly been missed.
Regarding the difference in the statistics given in the ‘Post-Campaign Monitoring (PCM) report prepared by an international organisation and another report compiled by CDA, in terms of the percentage of children covered during anti-polio campaigns, the CDA chairman clarified that because international donors had limited access, their reports showed a lower percentage of children who had been vaccinated as compared to the figures collected by the authority.”
World Health Organisation (WHO) senior coordinator for polio eradication Dr Elias Durry, said that the WHO, Unicef and other international partners are ready to go to any extent to help make the polio campaign successful, including the provision of technical support to ensure that every child in the twin cities is immunised against the polio virus.
Meanwhile the PM’s focal person said it was true that polio campaigns in the urban areas of the capital had not been successful, which is why the government has directed the CDA to improve its performance and ensure that every child under the age of five is vaccinated.
She added, “However, the CDA chairman assured that he would improve the authority’s performance in making the upcoming polio campaign a success.”
Dr Urooj admitted that CDA’s performance in carrying out polio campaigns has been unsatisfactory, which he attributed to a shortage of human resources, vehicles and finances.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2012.
More in PakistanVarying tones: Stories depicted in monochrome and colour