Three-day anti-polio campaign in tribal districts

Officials to focus on Bajaur and Khyber tribal areas after cases surfaced recently

Our Correspondents November 12, 2018
Officials to focus on Bajaur and Khyber tribal areas after cases surfaced recently. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: Like in the rest of the country, a three-day anti-polio vaccination drive is commencing in the tribal districts of the province with the authorities set to focus on two districts of Bajaur and Khyber.

This was announced by the provincial Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) on Sunday.

The three-day drive will be held under the supervision of district health officers, deputy commissioners, while security forces will be responsible for providing security.

The main drive will be followed up by a ‘catch up’ campaign for missed children.

The drive is hoping to cover some 896,205 children who are less than five-years-of-age. However, children in the seven tribal districts are expected to only receive the oral polio vaccine.

Around 4,084 teams will administer the vaccine of which 3,777 will be mobile teams going around the districts while 215 are fixed teams and 92 teams will operate on transit points.

“There will be an increased focus on vaccinating every child, especially, children on the move, in the tribal districts, particularly in the Bajaur and Khyber Districts where two cases and one case respectively have been confirmed since the last anti-polio campaign in September,” EPI Programme Manager Dr Iftikhar Ali said.

He added that they have worked harder to improve the quality of the campaigns and to increase their monitoring in Bajaur and Khyber districts.

Dr Ali warned that even if the “virus is still in circulation, it could strike to harm any unimmunised child. Parents and caregivers, especially those who are travelling, should be cautious as the only hope of saving their children from lifelong paralysis is the anti-polio drops administered by polio workers, who come to knock on your door, or are available at nearby health centres and  administer vaccine to children on the move at transit points”.

Nation in final push against polio

He added that they were striving to achieve the goal of zero polio cases in the tribal districts which were only possible if they succeeded in vaccinating every child and stop the transmission of the poliovirus.

In a recent meeting on polio coordination in the tribal districts at the Governor House in Peshawar last week, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Governor Shah Farman termed polio eradication a noble cause and one of the top most priorities of the incumbent government.

“If other countries have succeeded in eradicating polio, then we should also strive to make polio eradication a reality,” Farman had said.

Polio drive to commence in 12 districts from tomorrow

In another meeting, of the National Task Force on Polio Eradication chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the commitment of the federal and provincial governments towards polio eradication had been reiterated by participants by continuing to provide all possible support.

Imran had said that polio eradication was a national cause and every effort would be made to make Pakistan a polio-free country.

So far this year, eight cases of polio have been reported from across the country including three from the tribal areas of K-P and Balochistan while one each have been reported from Sindh and settled areas of K-P.

In K-P, the first case of the year was reported from Charsadda where stool samples from a boy tested positive for the virus. However, the boy did not show any of the physical symptoms associated with the virus.

Then in October and at the beginning of November, cases were reported from Khyber Tribal District and Bajaur Tribal District.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2018.

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