Islamabad: "Our Sehat Muhafiz have brought us so close to polio eradication that we cannot afford to relax hence me and leadership of EOC have come out to support our valiant teams for getting rid of this disease completely" said Prime Minister's Focal Person (PMFP), Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq during her surprise visit to monitor the polio campaign here in Islamabad.

The Senator paid a surprise visit to various localities in Islamabad and was accompanied by National Coordinator for Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Dr. Rana Safdar and other senior officers of the health ministry, ICT and CDA.

Over 250,000, front line workers (Sehat Muhafiz) are administering polio drops to over 37.7 million children under the age of five years across all provinces, FATA, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and AJK. Target for Islamabad is 0.312 million during the current campaign for which ICT and CDA administration have formed 1346 teams and set up 73 teams at various transit points across Islamabad.

“Pakistan has recorded historic low number of cases in 2017 and we don’t want to lose this opportunity to defeat this crippling virus by being vigilant, proactive and persistent,” said the Senator while visiting various localities in and around Islamabad. Prime Minister of Pakistan has constituted a special task force to specifically monitor the campaign in twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and report back to him on daily basis to ensure maximum coverage during this and all the upcoming campaigns. Though there has been no case reported from the twin cities for over two years but virus has been found in the environmental samples of both Islamabad and Rawalpindi drainage thus raising the concerns amongst officials and communities.

Noting that the polio drive in the capital was critical, the Senator said would be personally monitoring the campaign in the city. She also took notice of gaps in the provision of routine immunisation services against nine deadly diseases of children in the area and issued directions to ensure that every child is immunised without fail.

She visited vaccinators working in slums located on the outskirts of Islamabad to personally monitor the immunisation campaign on the second day of the five-day nationwide drive.The Senator visited the homes, interacted with parents and community elders in Pakistan Town, H 9. Koral and other areas. She went inside the homes and asked mothers if their children had been vaccinated by vaccinators. She urged the families and mothers to vaccinate their children against diseases explaining that vaccination was being provided by the government for free for every child against nine diseases and that it was the responsibility of the parents to avail these services for the health and wellbeing of their children.

She also inspected the children playing in the streets to see whether their fingers had been marked after they were vaccinated. Senator talked to polio teams and checked their tally sheets. She also advised polio teams to pay attention to children who may be visiting relatives since there is a possibility that such children are missed in the drive.

She further directed that each house, including makeshift shanties, nomads and travelling families with under five children should be administered polio drops and properly marked with permanent markers to ensure each household is covered.