PESHAWAR: No polio case has been reported from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) so far this year, a fact which has been appreciated by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Engineer Iqbal Zafar Jhagra.
Jhagra, while presiding over a meeting of the Fata polio task force at the Governor House in Peshawar on Tuesday, directed political agents and agency surgeons to ensure that not a single area in the tribal belt is left uncovered by polio teams.
Fata has been a particular hotbed for polio in Pakistan over the years primarily because militancy has restricted access for vaccinators. Routinely accounting for over half of all cases reported across the country, Fata had reported a high of 179 cases in 2014 when Pakistan’s tally soared to 309 cases. However, it fell to just 16 cases the next year and to just two in 2016 as the national total dwindled to 54 and 20 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Jhagra added that it was imperative that independent monitors can access every part of Fata to keep a check on the quality of the campaigns, especially in far-flung and border areas of Fata.
The governor further directed that separate task teams should be assigned to plan and oversee vaccination of children among the displaced population of the region. Moreover, he said that female participation in polio teams should be increased as Fata residents were much more aware of the importance of vaccination.
Political agents and agency surgeons were thus directed to take all possible initiatives to ensure that no child in the region is left unvaccinated.
Earlier, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Senator Aysha Raza Farooq welcomed the tremendous progress shown by EOC FATA Team in improving the quality of the campaigns in the region. She also urged campaign managers maintain the progress made.
“Our aim is to eradicate polio from the region which needs proactive approach towards filling the gaps and quality of campaigns,” Farooq said.
She added that their focus should be on improving monitoring of campaigns and vaccinating children who are travelling to and from Khyber Agency, Frontier Region Tank, South and North Waziristan Agency, Mohmand Agency and Bajaur Agency.
“We need to concentrate our efforts on ensuring that Fata sustains as polio-free this year,” she emphasised.
Meanwhile, EOC FATA representative Dr Nadeem Jan briefed the K-P governor about their achievements and plans for the remainder of 2017.
While appreciating the support provided by law enforcing agencies in improving access for polio teams in the region, Jhagra stressed the need for developing strong a communication network and coordination among agency teams as well as with K-P to ensure vaccination of every child in every campaign.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2017.
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