Innoculation drive in Swabi postponed

PESHAWAR: 

A four-day polio campaign has been postponed in Swabi due to security concerns.

Insiders familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune no new date has been decided to launch the campaign there as yet. However, the inoculation drive is will be conducted in 24 districts of  the province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Logistics

According to K-P health department data, during the four-day campaign, around 5.2 million children from 24 districts of the province and approximately 0.9 million children from Fata and Frontier Regions will be administered polio drops.

For the campaign, the Health department hired 14,115 mobile teams, 1,507 fixed teams and 746 transit teams, 74 roaming teams and 3,405 area in-charges.

According to an official of the health department, the campaign was delayed due to the anniversary of the Army Public School attack.

Logistics for FATA

A statement from Fata Emergency Operations Centre (ECO) revealed that FATA Secretariat health officials, with support from Unicef, WHO and BMGF, will ensure the polio campaign is carried out throughout Fata and the FRs.

For this purpose, 3,018 teams, comprising 2,630 mobile teams, 292 fixed teams and 96 transit teams, will administer polio drops to 965,403 children below the age of five years.

“Children in high-risk polio areas including Khyber Agency (Jamrud and Bara), South Waziristan, North Waziristan Agency and FR Bannu (Bakakhel, Janikhel, Hindikhel and Sintanga) will be continuously vaccinated for five days,” read a document.

According to the statement, 11 scheduled oral polio vaccination (OPV) campaigns have been carried out in 2015. The target population of children increased from 796,824 in January to 951,308 in November – implying a steady increase in accessibility.

The polio vaccine refusal rate during 2015 dropped to 1% in Fata and FRs, highlighting the fact that most of the target population was effectively vaccinated in 2015. This year, 15 polio cases from Fata and FRs were recorded: one from North Waziristan, two from South Waziristan, two from FR Peshawar and 10 from Khyber Agency.

Protesting locals refuse vaccination

Around 10,000 residents of a village in the Malakand district did not allow polio vaccination teams to inoculate their children in protest against the dilapidated condition of the village’s main road. A representative from Khanore village in Batkhela tehsil protested outside Peshawar Press Club on Thursday and demanded provincial government and Malakand district administration restart construction work on the road connecting their village to Batkhela.

While talking to The Express Tribune, Yar Muhammad, a local, said there were about 10,000 people living in his village, and yet they were deprived of a carpeted road. “The plan to construct the road was finally approved by the government following repeated demands from the Malakand administration,” he said. “However,” he added, “when the construction work began, some people from the neighbouring village approached the administration, and the construction work suspiciously stopped after that while the contractor also disappeared.” Taj Muhammad, another local, said children are deprived of education and many patients die on the way to hospital because it is difficult to reach main Batkhela city via the broken road. He said locals of the Khanore village have decided not to inoculate their children unless their demands are fulfilled.

Optimistic: Efforts afoot to rid country of polio, says K-P governor  

Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan has said progress is being made to eradicate polio and all government endeavours were headed in the right direction.

He said all out efforts were afoot to rid the country of the crippling virus.

He was presiding over a high level meeting about polio eradication in the province and Fata and reviewed the anti-polio campaign in Fata. The meeting was held at the Governor House on Thursday.

Senior Programme Representative Pakistan of the Bill and Malanda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Dr Waqar Ajmal, Principal Secretary to Governor Sikandar Qayyum, FATA EOC Coordinator and Secretary Law and Order Shakeel Qadir, Secretary AI&C FATA Zaheerul Islam, representatives of health departments and others also attended the meeting.

A detailed briefing was also given to the governor about the success of the ongoing polio eradication campaign in Fata,

Shakeel Qadir Khan attributed recent successes such as polio case response campaigns launched in FR Peshawar and Landikotal to the EOC FATA team, political agents and frontline workers in the tribal areas and frontier regions.

The meeting was told a continuous community protected vaccination approach would be adopted for vaccination, whereas in Landikotal, lady health workers were already engaged in vaccination campaigns. The governor asked the EOC FATA team to dig into details of accessibility and quality of the campaign to plan corrective measures if there are any loopholes.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th,  2015.

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