Battling the virus: Spotlight on security ahead of forthcoming anti-polio drive

Published: September 30, 2013

Peshawar recorded its second polio case of the year on Sunday. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: In light of a second polio case reported from Peshawar, an emergency meeting was held on Monday to chalk out a strategy to prevent the further spread of the virus in the city.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Home Department Secretary Syed Akhtar Ali Shah chaired the meeting in which it was decided that an anti-polio campaign would be started in Peshawar soon and security forces will be brought in from other districts to assist in the campaign in the city, stated an official statement.

In the meeting, battling polio was taken as a ‘challenge’ and it was stressed the commitments made by the government to international partners would be implemented positively.

At least 2,000 Pakistan Qaumi Razakar (PQR) or volunteers will be brought in to supplement the police force in the field. The vaccination campaign would be completed in four to seven days at a cost of Rs14.4 million.

The Central Police Office (CPO) would be responsible for arranging the required security force, volunteers and policemen from other districts.

Participants of the meeting were also told there were certain inaccessible areas including Achini Bala, Sheikhan, Mattani, Sherikera and Jugani villages where the police force would not be able to provide security. A suggestion was made to approach the Frontier Constabulary and Frontier Corps as they could provide security to polio teams during door-to-door visits in these areas.

It was decided the Frontier Constabulary would provide 10 platoons during the drive to the capital city police officer. The Pakistan Army would also provide security in areas where its help would be needed as determined by the CPO and district teams.

The provincial health secretary, Peshawar commissioner, director general of Health Services, members of intelligence agencies, Peshawar senior superintendent police, deputy director of Expanded Programme for Immunisation, World Health Organisation team leader and representatives of Frontier Constabulary and Frontier Corps were present at the meeting.

Similar meetings have been held earlier in which the home department had emphasised on launching quality polio campaigns in the city.

Peshawar recorded its second polio case of the year on Sunday when the National Institute of Health, Islamabad confirmed the presence of the virus in six-month-old Qurban Ali, a resident of union council Surezai Payyan. The first case of the year surfaced in the city in July in the then 12-month-old Uzair Muhammad, a resident of Aijazabad-I, Gulbahar.

With five new cases reported on Sunday, the number of affected children has climbed to seven in K-P and 24 in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2013.

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