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October 24, 2020

Concerted efforts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against poliovirus

Karachi

October 24, 2020

EOC Coordinator, KPK

“We will n o t r e s t u n t i l every child in Pakistan is safe from the poliovirus. This needs collective commitment, resolve, and dedication. I have full trust that the dream of polio-free Pakistan is about to come true in the future. InshaAllah.” said Abdul Basit, the Coordinator of Emergency Operations Center, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in an interview to The News. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been a militancy and conflict-stricken region,with a history of law and order issues where propaganda against the polio program was widespread for decades, and the workers were regularly attacked. Consequently, the region remained a reservoir and reported an increase in the number of polio cases around 2015. Although extensive progress has been made, still there are segments of society that are yet to be convinced of administering antipolio vaccines to their children. “Attaining their trust is vital,” opined the Provincial Coordinator. “We have witnessed an explosive outbreak of polio cases in the province last year. However, all-out one team efforts of all the partners in containing outbreaks have resulted in bringing down the polio cases this year.We have only 22 WPV cases reported so far fromthe province this year, as compared to 93 last year, a 76% reduction in the cases,” he added. KP reported its lastWPV case in July 2020 whereas the last cVDPV2 was detected in May 2020. “It is a big achievement keeping in view suspension of Polio campaigns for several months due to COVID-19. Radical changes/strict SOPs were brought in to resume polio vaccination campaigns, which have proven to be effective,” he maintained. . The province has not achieved the desired target of vaccination coverage during antipolio campaigns that would break transmission of wild poliovirus. It is mainly because of refusals and persistently missed children (PMC). “It is due to misconceptions, such as vaccine safety and religious misconceptions that further fuel doubts among communities.” Talking about areas of focus to run a successful polio campaign in the province, Basit says: “EOC of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa focused on three main factors for a successful polio campaign. “The most important is the cooperation of the community and conscious efforts from parents to vaccinate their children, as their national obligation. The ideal situationwould be onewhere parentswould informtheir District Health Officers (DHO) that their child has missed the dose of polio vaccine. The second area of focus is the data reported by teams. The more accurate the data, the most successful a polio vaccination campaign would be. Last but not the least is the support of allmajor sectors of society, e.g. politicians, ulema, scholars, teachers, lawyers, doctors, philanthropists, etc,” he added. Suggesting some strategies towards a goal for polio free Pakistan Basit says, “Pakistan is one of the last two countries where the children are at risk of getting lifelong paralysis fromthe poliovirus. This is not only a stigma on the pride of a nuclear state but is also a continuous threat to our future generations. The example of 123 countries that stopped Wild Polio Virus circulation is a living example. It is not something impossible Pakistan has everything, such as a safe and efficacious oral polio vaccine, enough trained human resources, and above all government commitment to fight Poliovirus. The only missing ingredient is the strong support from the community leaders and parents. Once we get it we will succeed,” he concluded.