Four districts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) will miss the upcoming special national immunisation days due to Muharram, a meeting in Islamabad on Thursday concluded.
Peshawar, Kohat, Hangu and DI Khan will not be included in the anti-polio campaign carried out from November 18 to November 20. Due to the sensitive time of the year, it was decided in a meeting chaired by Dr Altaf Bosan, the national coordinator of the Prime Minister Secretariat’s Polio Monitory Cell, that these areas would be included in the second round of campaigns starting from November 29 and ending on December 1.
The meeting was also attended by officials of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) from K-P, Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) as well was WHO and UNICEF representatives.
It was consensually decided that the campaign will be held in the northern areas of K-P as soon as the federal government receives enough vaccines, expected to arrive in Pakistan by December.
Next month, sub-national immunisation days (SNIDs) will be held from December 10 to 12 in K-P, while the nationwide SNIDs are tentatively proposed to be held from December 17 to 19.
Dr Bosan expressed concern over the global shortage of the oral polio vaccines especially as anti-polio campaigns are increasing in K-P with supplementary immunisation activities every month.
He said that with the increase in polio cases in the country, maximum benefits need to be drawn from available resources.
“We are trying our best to immunise all children in high-risk areas of the province to avoid new cases,” said K-P EPI Deputy Director, Dr. Janbaz Afridi.
Afridi hopes that no new cases emerge in the four districts that will be missed during the immunisation drive.
“The government had to provide us with 30 million doses for the month but since the company that provides the vaccines to donor agencies closed, we could not receive the total amount we needed,” said Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah.
Additional vaccines were requested for a special campaign in December but it remains uncertain if the vaccines will be available, Shah added.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2012.