Fight against polio: Over half a million children miss immunisation

Published: July 6, 2013
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Volatile security, attacks on vaccinators mar anti-polio campaign.

Volatile security, attacks on vaccinators mar anti-polio campaign.

ISLAMABAD: 

As many as 0.68 million children in Pakistan missed polio vaccination due to the deteriorating law and order situation and administrative issues during a three-day polio campaign in high-risk zones from July 1 to July 3 followed by a day-long catch-up activity.

The campaign, known as the Subnational Immunisation Days, aimed to target 17.4 million children of less than five years of age in 90 districts of the country.

A report compiled by the Polio Operation Room – a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune – reveals that only 60% of the targeted children were vaccinated during the drive. As many 685,661 children missed vaccination during this campaign.

“Catch-up activities are in progress and hopefully a large number of missed children will be administered to,” Dr Altaf Bosan, national coordinator for monitoring Pakistan’s polio vaccination programme, told The Express Tribune. He added that the major reason for the missed children is the fluid security situation in some parts of the country.

Minister of State for Health Saira Afzal Tarar, while chairing a high-level meeting, announced the formation of a high-powered committee with membership from all four provinces to review periodically the plans, strategies and interventions.

“It is a fact that despite advocating a strong routine immunisation, we are unable to achieve the desired immunisation. The international health agencies have also expressed concerns that we have not been able to protect our children against vaccine preventable diseases,” she said.

On the other hand, vaccination teams report that 40,971 children did not receive polio drops in their routine immunisation after childbirth.

DESIGN: ESSA MALIK

FATA

Vaccination teams could not target 23,335 children in Frontier Region Peshawar because of the volatile security situation in the area. In the Jani Khel, Hindi Khel and Sain Tanga areas of Frontier Region Bannu, 12,099 children were supposed to be inoculated. But the campaign was postponed due to the poor security situation.

In North and South Waziristan agencies, vaccination teams have no access to more than 260,000 children since June 2012. Taliban insurgents have banned polio vaccination in part of the two agencies calling anti-polio campaigns a ploy to spy on the militants in the region.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

In Charsadda district, the campaign was postponed due to security issues. Peshawar missed the immunisation campaigns scheduled in May and June 2013 due to attacks on vaccinators. There is persistent isolation of poliovirus in the environmental samples collected from Peshawar.

Balochistan

In Jaffarabad, Killa Abdullah, Nasirabad and Pishin districts, the immunisation campaign could not kick off due to administrative issues where 526,339 children were to be inoculated. On the other hand, the campaign in Quetta was crippled by a lady health workers’ strike.

Punjab

The sub-national campaign in six districts of Punjab – Chiniot, Jhang, Kasur, Okara, Sheikhupura and Toba Tek Singh – will start on July 7. As many as 1.9 million children under five years of age will be vaccinated during the drive.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • csmann
    Jul 6, 2013 - 4:23PM

    Another gift from TTP and Mullahs-potential maiming of future Pakistanis

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  • marco
    Jul 6, 2013 - 5:49PM

    could be published or downloaded the complete “report” compiled by the Polio Operation Room ? thank you

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  • marco
    Jul 6, 2013 - 6:09PM

    sorry but, about newborns immunization, if pakistan has 1 milion newborn/year, this means that 40K newborn not immunizated is about the 4% and i think the trend it is aligned with the standard (>95% immunizated).

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  • ashar
    Jul 6, 2013 - 6:29PM

    Why the stress is only upon polio?

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  • csmann
    Jul 6, 2013 - 7:26PM

    @marco:
    @ashar:
    Stress is on polio because it has been eliminated in all countries except Pakistan and Afghanistan.
    4% miss rate annually adds up over years,so that there could have 400,000 children aged 1-10 who are not immunised after 10 years. Even 1% attack rate per year will leave 4000 children paralysed for life,an easily avoidable disease. And the culprits are shameless Taliban and ignorant Mullahas who misguide parents and kill the brave men and women who go around administering vaccine against all odds.

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  • marco
    Jul 6, 2013 - 10:32PM

    @csmann, you’re right about taliban but my focus are only on data.

    if you have 4% of uncovered newborns you will have 400K uncovered children (1-10) in ten years (supposing you are not able to reach none of them in ten years, strange to reach). so I cannot figure out how to reach 700K of missing children (at a rate of 4% you need about 18 years to reach 700K). a teenager is not a children. if you subtract the covered after the birth (25%) and the teenagers (25%) you probably will have 350K and not 700K.

    for pakistan I believe you have less then one disability for 100K inhabitants. the worst country in the world is turkmenistan with 10 for 100K. where you base your hypothesis to have an 1% of attacks ? If attacks means infections than you have to consider that less of 1% of infected people will have permanent damages. by the way infections rate is not an hypotethic number but is knowed and depends on many factors, most important is hygiene

    for me talibans and anti talibans are fighting, for different reasons, wrong wars.

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