Monday September 20, 2021

Successful campaigns help control polio: secy

July 30, 2021

LAHORE:Secretary Primary & Secondary Healthcare (PS&HC) Sarah Aslam reviewed the report of polio in years 2019 and 2020 here on Thursday.

She said both the years were difficult for polio eradication for different reasons. 2019 saw a large gap in campaigns following the Peshawar incident in April as a result the virus got a chance to spread, even in areas not considered at high risk. This massive spread resulted in 147 cases of polio in Pakistan in 2019, 12 cases were reported in Punjab.

However, Punjab health department under the leadership of Health Minister and polio-free vision of Chief Minister had re-strategize and started to recover with successful back-to-back campaigns in the end of 2019 and March 2020. That was the time when COVID-19 pandemic emerged and the global polio programme came to a halt, at this moment one polio case was reported. While talking about effects of COVID-19 on polio campaigning she said that, the lockdown and overall pandemic emergency have of course affected polio eradication; the vaccination campaigns were stopped and work at temporary transit points was also suspended, while at that time target of vaccinated children was about 250,000 per month in Punjab with really good move. With all these challenges, efforts were being made to resume vaccination activities. The new initiatives taken to strengthen the micro-plans and efficient social mobilisation to reach to every child has resulted in high level of campaign quality.

The improvement is reflected through administration coverage of children which is maintained at average 99% and Quality Assurance Surveys that showed high percentage of good quality campaign indicators (average 92% in year 2020-21). The enhanced coverage of children in all districts of Punjab is evident through the environmental samples also. Punjab is reporting negative environmental samples consistently from past two months. Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare (PS&HC) Sarah Aslam also talked about the support provided by Government of Punjab to eradicate polio from roots. She said that, during 2020-21 before every campaign, regular Provincial Task Force meetings have been conducted chaired by Health Minister.

Also, more than 90% pre campaign DPEC meetings, readiness meetings and intra-campaign evening review meetings were chaired by Deputy Commissioners themselves which has resulted in improved quality of camping and negative environmental samples.

Punjab Government and Health Department are determined to make Punjab polio-free and taking all necessary actions even during pandemic to achieve the goal of polio eradication. She also thanked all hardworking frontline workers and District Management teams of Punjab Polio Eradication Programme who are enthusiastically carrying out polio eradication campaign and are determined to carry the same momentum seen in the past and are conscious of the fact that there is long way to go where complacency is not an option.