PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) health department is planning to boost routine immunisation after making significant gains in controlling the transmission of polio virus in the province.
According to details, since the transmission of polio virus has almost stopped after only a single case was reported for over a year, the department wants to task the polio staff members to carry out routine immunisation.
“Currently we have around 54% of coverage for routine immunization and if we follow the pattern of [anti-polio campaigns], then this will have a far reaching impact in controlling other deadly diseases that threaten children,” a senior health official, who was part of the meeting held in Peshawar, told The Express Tribune.
The official said that frontline workers, who have made it possible to bring poliovirus cases from hundreds to one, will follow the same pattern. They will aim to register children and mark the immunised children during the routine immunisation campaigns and follow-ups.
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“This, I think, is the best possible way to boost routine immunisations and honestly 54% coverage of routine immunization can become a huge future problem,” said another official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
He also informed this reporter that a synergy of the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) and Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) is being considered, said the official. He added that before launching the full programme a pilot will be carried out in one Tehsil.
“Pilot projects always bring positive changes and once we identify them we will expand the programme in the province,” K-P’s Health Secretary Abid Majeed told The Express Tribune.
Health officials, while talking about the pilot programme, said that although the government is planning to start the programme in a single Tehsil, those involved in anti-polio vaccination campaigns have proposed that district Peshawar be considered as the first place for the pilot project.
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Earlier, a meeting was held at K-P Emergency Operation Center (EOC) where the idea of synergising the EPI, PEI was floated.
While talking on the occasion, Minister for Health Shahram Khan Tarakai lauded the frontline workers who play a vital role in sharply reducing the number of polio cases.
“A single polio case in the province should not dampen our spirits,” the minister was quoted in a statement issued by the health department.
Tarakai also highlighted the role of routine immunisation coverage in polio eradication. He also said that a provincial task force for routine immunisation is also likely to be formed to review the status of routine immunisation across the province.
EOC Coordinator Atif Rehman, who recently replaced Akbar Khan, briefed the meeting on the status of poliovirus in K-P with a focus on the recently confirmed case from Lakki Marwat district.
EPI Director Dr Akram Shah, K-P Technical Focal Person Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah, Deputy Team Leader Unicef Huma Arif Khan and representatives from the World Health Organisation also attended the meeting.
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