The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed the presence of poliovirus P1 in the sewage of three Pakistani cities - Karachi, Hyderabad and Peshawar.
“Laboratory analysis has confirmed that P1 poliovirus was present in the sewage of Gadap Town in Karachi, Hyderabad and University Town in Peshawar,” a WHO official said on Monday.
The official said the samples were collected earlier this month.He added that the laboratory tests helped identify the areas where the virus was rampant, allowing the authorities to plan extensive polio vaccination campaigns there.
Free of P3
The WHO plans to declare Pakistan free of poliovirus P3.
The WHO official said the last case of a P3 poliovirus infection was reported in Pakistan on April 14 last year and if no new case was reported by April this year, the country would be declared free of the virus.He said the virus was also not found in the sewage samples collected from 31 cities of the country.
Year’s first drive
Following the murder of women vaccinators during last year’s polio vaccination campaign, this year’s first centralised polio vaccination campaign in 97 union councils of 14 towns of Karachi will commence on February 4.
Unlike the previous vaccination drives, the provincial health authorities have decided not to publicise the campaign for the security of vaccinators, many of whom have been reluctant to take part in administering polio drops to children.
During the campaign, around 1,067,744 children up to five years old will be administered polio vaccine drops, for which over 300 teams of vaccinators and volunteers will be constituted.
Officials of the Sindh Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) are planning to mobilise over 6,000 vaccinators and volunteers to inoculate children against polio.
They said that majority of the female vaccinators, especially the lady health workers, have been reluctant to take part in the campaign.
Sindh EPI Manager Dr Mazhar Khamisani confirmed that a comprehensive polio vaccination campaign was being planned to start early next month, but due to security concerns, the campaign was not being publicised like in the past.
He said vaccination would be carried out in some parts of Karachi amid tight security, for which the city administration would be consulted and taken into confidence to ensure that all the targeted children are covered during the campaign.
He maintained that tight security would be provided to vaccinators and volunteers, especially female volunteers.
He said lady health workers were not reluctant to take part in the campaign, adding that only a few vaccinators were asking for heightened security in certain sensitive areas of the city.
Drive across Sindh
Khamisani said a polio vaccination campaign across Sindh had started on Monday, during which over 3.2 million children in 620 union councils of 22 districts of the province would be administered polio vaccine drops.
He maintained that over 25,000 volunteers and vaccinators were taking part in the form of 12,000 teams to vaccinate the children, adding that 764 fixed and 712 transit stations had also been established to vaccinate the maximum number of children.
— Infographic by Faraz Maqbool