ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s polio eradication programme is sharpening its tools to launch the final offensive against the crippling virus by launching targeted campaigns in vulnerable areas, said Secretary Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination Muhammad Ayub Sheikh.
Sheikh passed this remark while inaugurating the review meeting of N-STOP officers and District Polio Control Room’s (DPCR) focal persons from critical districts. During the meeting, he congratulated the polio eradication programme on making substantial progress during the last low transmission season and urged them to sustain their performance.
Meanwhile, National EOC Coordinator Dr Safdar, in his keynote address, highlighted how the ‘One Team’ approach adopted by the EOC network had actualised polio turnaround in the country. This has clearly been a game changer, bringing cases down from 306 to 54 in 2015 and lowest ever 20 in 2016, said the national coordinator.
Polio eradication successful in Astore
The momentum has further been maintained in 2017 where the current case count of 2 compares with 13 during the corresponding period last year, stated Safdar. “Decline in cases and positive environmental samples as well as the shrinking genetic diversity are all positive signs. We are, however, chasing Zero which will require hard work if we want to make it happen in the next six months,” he cautioned.
Earlier, in his welcome address Resident Advisor FELTP Dr Rana Jawad Asgher highlighted the role of field epidemiology training programme in strengthening federal and provincial human resource which is assisting the government in controlling communicable diseases.
The N-STOP is a collaborative initiative of the government, FELTP, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The programme trains and deploys public health officers in critical polio districts. They serve as key technical support persons to the deputy commissioners of the critical districts.
The inaugural session was also attended by 65 N-STOP officers, national leads of WHO and UNICEF, Resident Advisor FELTP as well as the representative from the armed forces. Meanwhile, intense preparations are underway for a special targeted campaign in vulnerable pockets of 73 districts/towns/agencies across the country.
The phase-1 of the campaign will start from 10-13 July in Rawalpindi-Islamabad as well as select areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Fata, AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and interior Sindh. The phase-2 will start from 17-20 July and will cover eight districts of Balochistan, Karachi, Badin, Sujawal and Thatta, whereas the Quetta block will conduct the campaign from 24-30 July.
The programme will target a total of 10.44 million children under the age of five (0.829 million in Punjab, 4 million in Sindh, 2.93 million in K-P, 1.368 million in Balochistan, 0.342 million in Fata, 0.453 million in AJK, 0.132 million in GB and 0.31 million children in Islamabad).
Some 75,000 personnel will work on the campaign to achieve the set targets across the country including 8,026 area incharges, 2,396 UC medical officers, 55,465 mobile, 3,168 fixed and 3,954 transit team members.
The national EOC has urged the entire team to make all-out efforts during the campaign and requested all sectors, as well as parents, to facilitate the frontline workers in this noble cause.