With polio cases rising at an alarming pace, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health department has decided to conduct vaccination drives across the province. In the first phase, around 2 million children from 11 districts will be vaccinated in a four-day drive.
According to data available from the K-P Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), 6,118 teams comprising health workers and lady health workers will participate in the drive. The campaign is being conducted in 11 districts on a priority basis.
These are DI Khan, Battagram, Buner, Haripur, Malakand, Mansehra, Nowshera, Shangla, Swabi, Swat and Torghar, EPI official Saud Khan told The Express Tribune on Monday.
“Because polio cases were reported from several of these districts, the health department decided to start province-wide vaccination,” said Saud. According to him, the immunisation drive would be extended to the remaining districts from next week.
District Polio Control Room Focal Person Dr Saleem Khan told The Express Tribune that Peshawar will also be covered in a day-long polio drive later this week. “Since Peshawar is a high-risk area, a separate drive has been organised to cover its residents,” explained Saleem.
“Around 0.75 million will be vaccinated in 97 union councils of Peshawar by 4,230 health teams and all preparations for the day-long drive have been completed,” Saleem added.
Meanwhile, EPI officials have also conducted a polio campaign in Khyber and Bajaur agencies to immunise children against the crippling virus. According to a FATA EPI official, militants have banned vaccination in North and South Waziristan and some parts of Khyber Agency which has deprived thousands of children from polio drops.
“Many children in Bara are inaccessible because it is among the most dangerous areas and polio workers are afraid to go there,” he said. This year, 46 polio cases have been reported from Khyber Agency.
Of the 210 cases recorded in Pakistan thus far, 139 are from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, 43 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 19 from Sindh, six from Balochistan and three from Punjab.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2014.