Survey of Pakistan to help improve polio campaigns

Published: September 1, 2016
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Maps will be generated to ensure no child is missed during inoculation drive. PHOTO: APP

Maps will be generated to ensure no child is missed during inoculation drive. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: The country’s health authorities have joined hands with the Survey of Pakistan (SoP) for improved polio campaign planning and execution monitoring.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the defence ministry and the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) at the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) on Tuesday for developing modern geographic maps for the polio programme.

The centre’s coordinator Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar said the project was part of the efforts to vaccinate each and every child during upcoming campaigns.

The geospatial technology was a vital tool that can be used to strengthen poliovirus surveillance, campaign planning, information management and real-time analysis, he said.

“It will provide excellent means for the programme to visualise and analyse polio epidemiological data and in revealing trends that can help the programme deliver an appropriate response,” the doctor added.

Under the MoU, high-quality maps will be generated that will aid vaccinators and field teams to enhance planning for campaigns and guide programme operations to ensure no child was missed. Traditionally maps generated at the union council level, used by vaccinators to show which area each team will cover during the campaign, had been mostly hand-drawn sketches created by teams.

The new maps will also enable the implementation of activities under the National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP).

The initiative will be applied in six districts in northern Sindh — Sukkur, Ghotki, Kashmore, Jacobabad, Larkana and Shikarpur — before being gradually introduced across other districts considered high-risk for poliovirus.

The Survey of Pakistan Deputy Surveyor-General Mehar Ali regarded it as a milestone agreement for use of technology that has potential users across different programmes and sectors.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq termed the initiative a landmark for using modern technologies to strengthen polio eradication efforts.

Meanwhile, the vaccination campaign scheduled from August 29 till September 1 in 79 out of 82 districts, agencies and towns is going smoothly.

The campaign has been rescheduled in three districts including Rawalpindi from September 7 to 10 due to engagement of security personnel in the National T20 Cricket Tournament, scheduled in Islamabad from September 7 for ensuring synchronised campaign with Rawalpindi district and Lahore from September 5 to 8 due to heavy rains.

Around 19.34 million children aged under five years are being vaccinated in the campaign  — around 5.98 million in Punjab, 6.71 million in Sindh, 3.64 million in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 1.68 million in Balochistan, 1.06 million in FATA and 0.29 million in Islamabad — by using around 21.7 million doses of vaccine.

Around 125,000 personnel will participate in the campaign including 11,991 area in-charges, 3,516 union council medical officers, 94,839 mobile, 4,685 fixed and 5,638 transit team members.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2016.

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