Pakistan starts new year anti-polio drive with a focus on HRMP

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Islamabad, 15 Jan, 2017 - The first national campaign of 2018 will kick start from Monday across all provinces, AJK and Gilgit Baltistan except for Karachi. Over 260,000 health workers and support staff will be administering polio drops to almost 38 million under five children during the next five days. Campaign in Karachi was delayed due to administrative reasons and will be starting from 22nd January.

Urging the parents to cooperate with the visiting Sehat Muhafiz in their areas, National Coordinator for Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Dr Rana Mohammad Safdar has urged the frontline health workers to continue their hard work till we cross the finish line in this fight against polio. He said that we are pleased to see that over 99 per cent targets are met during every campaign but we are still concerned for those minor percentage of missed children who are missed because either they are travelling or sleeping when our teams visit their houses.

“We have asked the teams to continue their good work of vaccinating all children but their focus during 2018 should be on all such children who are travelling or missed because of any reason.”

As per the global watchdog like International Monetary Board (IMB) and Technical Advisory Group (TAG), Pakistan has achieved the best ever epidemiological picture in 2017. Only eight cases were reported from seven districts during 2017 as against 20 cases from 14 districts in 2016.

The progress is even more commendable if we look at 306 cases in 2014.  There is a 60 per cent reduction in cases when we compare 2016 with 2017.

Number of missed children proportion is less than 0.1 per cent which shows that parents are cooperating and vaccinating their children. Though number of cases have gone down during 2017 but polio virus continues to play hide and seek across Pakistan as it continued to be detected in the environmental samples across Punjab, KP, Balochistan and Sindh.

Proactive disease surveillance mechanism is helping the program to timely detect virus from 53 environmental sampling sites across all provincial and national territories to help develop strategies and action plans to defeat the circulating virus.

Punjab

Polio campaign will be launched in 3665 union councils of 36 districts in Punjab where more than 19 million children will be vaccinated in high risk districts of the province. Over 32 thousand teams of Sehat Muhafiz will go door to door to vaccinate children below the age of five. There has been only once case reported from district Lodhran of Punjab during 2017 but there have been some positive environmental samples in 2016 from central and south Punjab districts.

Sindh

Except for all eight districts of Karachi, this campaign will be launched in rest of Sindh where over 7.2 million under five children will be the target of the teams. Teams comprising of over 41 thousand health workers will be administering polio drops during the next five days. There have been two cases reported from Sindh (Both from Karachi) during 2017 while environmental samples were also recorded positive from Karachi and interior Sindh during the past year.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

More than 5.7 million children will be administered anti-polio drops during five-day campaign in the province. Provincial EOC has deputed over 28 thousand heath workers to carry out this national duty in 1022 union councils of 26 districts of the province. There has been only once case from KP during 2017 but environmental samples remained positive from Peshawar and south KP districts.

FATA/PATA

In 13 agencies and FR areas of tribal belt, over 1.25 million children will be administered polio drops during this campaign by over 6240 health workers. The teams have been deputed in 386 union councils of these agencies. FATA has remained polio free throughout 2017 and the last case reported from SWA was in November 2016. Almost all FAA agencies except one borders neighboring Afghanistan.

Balochistan

During five-day anti-polio drive in 714 union councils of 34 districts in Balochistan over ten thousand health workers will be targeting 2.46 million under five children. Three cases were reported from Balochistan during 2017 with the latest one from district Zhob in November 2017. The district also has recorded positive environmental samples throughout the year. Balochistan shares long border with Afghanistan.

Gilgit Baltistan

In 110 union councils of 11 districts in Gilgit Baltistan over two thousand health workers will be administering polio drops to 0.24 million children during the next five days. First case of 2017 appeared from this northern administrative province of Pakistan after staying free of polio for almost four years.

Azad Jammu & Kashmir

Nearly three quarters of a million (0.75 million) under five children will be administered polio drops during the five-day campaign across 204 union councils of 10 districts in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Historically this region has remained polio free and vaccination rates are also considered almost 100%.

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