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August 24, 2019

Media urged to create community trust in polio vaccine


August 24, 2019

PESHAWAR: Coordinator Emergency Operations Centre Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Capt (R) Kamran Afridi has urged media to support the government in addressing hard-core polio refusals and create community demand for the vaccination as the province is struggling with the rising polio cases.

“Baseless propaganda against polio vaccine by vested elements has badly affected the programme and put the health of our children at stake,” he said.

He was addressing a press conference at EOC Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Merged Districts Secretariat here on Friday.

Team Leads for National Stop Transmission of Polio (N-STOP), WHO, UNICEF and BMGF were also present.

Kamran Afridi appreciated the positive and responsible reporting of media on polio and requested it to continue its constructive role till the virus was wiped out of the region and children get protected from permanent disabilities.

He said that polio cases had decreased over the last several years in the province from 238 in 2014 to 41 in 2019.

However, he added that several factors, including weak essential immunisation, parental refusal, and fake finger marking were responsible for the spike in polio cases in the province.

To counter the anti-vaccine propaganda and other programmatic challenges, the provincial EOC initiated revamped communication and perception management strategy that included advocacy sessions with different stakeholders at provincial and district levels, area-level challenge mapping, traditional and digital media engagement, apart from establishing crisis management cell at all levels, he added.

Moreover, he added that a sub-national Immunisation drive against polio will be kicked off on August 26 in 29 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wherein more than 4.6 million children will be administered oral polio vaccine (OPV).

The meeting was informed that anti-polio campaign will be conducted in Peshawar, Khyber, Bajaur, Mohmand, Charsadda, Nowshera, Mardan, Swabi, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, Bannu, Hangu, Tank, DI Khan, Karak, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Buner, Swat, Shangla, Torghar, Haripur, Mansehra, Kohistan and Battagram. A total of 16,800 teams have been established for the campaign, out of which 13,884 are mobile teams, 1222 fixed teams, 792 transit teams, and 902 roaming teams whereas 3922 area in-charge will monitor the campaign, he said.

He said that special security measures were taken to ensure that teams work in a safe environment and reach 100 percent target population.

The EOC coordinator appealed to parents to get their children vaccinated against polio and to shun anti-polio propaganda to protect children from permanent disability.

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