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Anti-polio campaign: 5.7 million children to be immunized across K-P
With the first polio virus case recorded in the province in over a year, officials involved in the anti-polio campaigns have decided to further focus their activities to get rid of the crippling virus.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) health officials have stated that while only one such case has been reported in 2018 so far, they will not be taking it lightly as the case poses a serious threat to the entire programmed, adding that since the virus is circulating in the environment, activities will be further expanded to curb the virus’ movement.
So far in 2018, as many as four polio virus cases have been reported across the country. Hence, a comprehensive campaign is being launched from Monday (today) where over 5.7 million children under five-years-of-age will be vaccinated against the virus.
Apart from anti-polio drops, children will also be administered vitamin-A drops.
The decision was taken after preparedness reports were received from districts.
A review meeting was held at the K-P Emergency Operations Center (EOC) with EOC Coordinator Abid Wazir in the chair. It was attended by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Technical Focal Person Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Team Leader Dr Johar Khan, World Health Organisation (WHO) Team Leader Dr Abdi Nasir, and N-Stop Provincial Team Lead Dr Ijaz Ali Shah.
The meeting was told that all necessary logistical and security arrangements have been made and training of the teams have been completed to build their capacity with the required information and skills, necessary for carrying out a successful campaign.
Moreover, it was disclosed that around 21,948 teams have been constituted to carry out the campaign. Of these, 19,251 are mobile teams who will conduct the door-to-door vaccination campaign. Moreover, there will be 1,620 fixed, 895 transit and 182 roaming teams.
These teams will be managed by 5,060 area in-charges who have been deputed to ensure the quality of the campaign.
To guard the vaccination, as many as 30,000 security personnel have been deployed across the province, the meeting was told.
According to a statement issued by the EOC on Sunday, Wazir said that K-P has made tremendous progress and emphasized on the need for immunization in every round of anti-polio drive until the circulation was curbed and all children are protected from lifelong paralysis.
“The virus continues to circulate in Pakistan and Afghanistan and it will not stop unless every child is reached and vaccinated against the crippling virus in every campaign,” the statement quoted Wazir as saying, adding that the media has played an important role in educating people about the significance of the vaccination which was the only solution to defeating the virus.
Referring to the recent positive polio case discovered in Charsadda, the EOC coordinator for K-P stated that the case only served to prove that the virus remains in the environment in the province.
But, at the same time, it also suggests the success of the vaccination campaign as the infection could have left the child paralysed had she not been vaccinated multiple times.
Four poliovirus cases have been confirmed across the country in 2018. One has been confirmed in K-P and three others from Dukki area of Balochistan.
Earlier in September, the first polio positive case of the province in over a year was confirmed in Charsadda district. While stool samples from the toddler tested positive for the virus, the boy showed none of the physical symptoms which accompany infection. It was only the second such case to ever surface in the province in as many years.
In the first such case, two-year-old Zunaira hailing from Lakki Marwat had tested positive for the virus in September last year. Having received seven doses of vaccine as well as the inactivated polio vaccine, her body managed to fight off the virus and did not show any of the physical symptoms of the infection — i.e. physical crippling.
Health officials believe that the reason behind children resisting the virus is the repeated doses administered to them. Like Zunaira, Arsalan too had received multiple doses of the vaccine. Not only the oral polio vaccine (OPV) but the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) as well which further boosts the immunity of children against the virus.
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