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September 25, 2018

Health minister asks uncooperative parents to vaccinate children against polio

Karachi

September 25, 2018

Sindh health and population welfare minister Dr Azra Pechuho on Monday urged the parents of all children under five years of age in the province to vaccinate their children against polio during the coming campaigns, saying it was the last push towards the eradication of the disease.

“Not a single case has been reported from Karachi this year, which shows that we have extensively covered all the children during vaccination drives, and I would urge the remaining parents who are still refusing to get their children vaccinated against polio to go for the vaccination,” she said while inaugurating the nationwide vaccination drive at Jannat Gul Hospital at Sohrab Goth Area.

On the occasion, she also planted a sapling at the public hospital and vowed to provide better health facilities to the residents of Sohrab Goth and the adjoining areas.

During the ongoing National Immunisation Days (NIDs) campaign which started on Monday in Sindh also, around 8.88 million will be vaccinated against polio in all districts and union councils of the province, while as many as 38.6 million children will be given oral polio vaccines in entire Pakistan.

Pechuho also called for rational use of anti-rabies vaccine, which is given to patients in dog-bite cases, saying not every dog who bites a person is rabid. But her observation was countered by experts of infectious diseases’ experts, saying the government should concentrate more on the elimination of stray dogs and preventing people from dog- bites.

She maintained that Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Cases (CCHF) cases increased after Eid-ul-Azha due to the arrival of infected animals from Afghanistan. She added that hospitals were equipped with facilities to deal with emergency-like situations.

Polio eradication officials said the vaccination drive was fully synchronised with that under way in Afghanistan to ensure effective vaccination of mobile children as well. They added that Pakistan was closest ever to its goal and starting its final push towards the interruption of polio virus with the first nationwide door-to-door national campaign.

In 2018, only four polio cases have so far been reported from two districts, including three from the Dukki area of Balochistan and one from Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The program will target a total of 38.6 million under five children -- 19.22 million in Punjab, 8.88 million in Sindh, 6.75 million in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including tribal districts), 2.5 million in Balochistan, 0.7 million in AJK, 0.237 million in Gilgit-Baltistan and 0.33 million children in Islamabad.

It will be a three-day campaign with one to two days’ catch-up elsewhere and five days with two days’ catch-up in core reservoir areas. During this campaign, Vitamin-A supplement will also be administered to around 35 million children aged between 6-59 months along with OPV aimed at boosting immunity against all infectious diseases, including measles.

A total of 260,000 personnel will strive to achieve the set targets across Pakistan, including 26,169 area incharges, 7,958 UC medical officers, 190,950 mobile, 10,271 fixed and 11,998 transit team members. Moreover, considering its significance, the National EOC deployed 40 experts to facilitate preparedness by the local teams in priority areas. The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for Polio in Sindh said it would conduct a polio campaign from September 24 to 28 in all districts and union councils of the Sindh province.

The polio campaign has a target of 8.88 million children across the province, and 2.4 million of them are residing in Karachi. More than 56,000 frontline workers (teams and area incharges) will take part in the campaign (more than 12,000 in Karachi) while 5,000 police personnel will be providing security cover in Karachi.

The total case count for polio in 2017 was eight in Pakistan out of which two cases were from Karachi in Sindh. This is a historical low for the country and the province. There has been no case so far in Sindh in 2018 and there has been four polio cases in Pakistan which are from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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