ISLAMABAD - Pakistan being on top of the three polio endemic countries has seen surge this year in cases by 150 per cent in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and 200 per cent in Punjab as compared to the last year.
The country remains on the top of three polio endemic countries with the surface of highest number of polio cases followed by Afghanistan and Nigeria with 9 and 50 cases respectively so far. Pakistan has reported 72 cases this year, more than last year's number that remained 58 with 24 per cent surge as compared to 2012, informed Dr Elias Durry, Chief of Polio Eradication programme at World Health Organisation (WHO).
Most of the cases that have been appearing are from areas that remain inaccessible like FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, he said in a briefing.
He shared that around 33 million (98 per cent) children were immunised in the country excluding North and South Waziristan in a campaign ran from November 18 to 20. But 2.34 million children missed the polio drops including 260,000 children from North and South Waziristan due to various reasons including security situation. Of them 622,354 children were missed in Balochistan while 501,870 in KPK and 477,329 in FATA.
Besides, 47,099 children missed polio drops due to parental refusal across the Pakistan and of them 24,968 refused in KPK, 14,978 in Sindh and 5,068 in Balochistan.
The chief of polio eradication programme said though the virus is spreading in Pakistan and abroad, Pakistan has a strong opportunity to eradicate the disease by reaching the un-reached, conducting uniformly high quality campaign and with special concerted efforts in Peshawar and Karachi.
It is embarrassing that Pakistan has not been able to eradicate the disease and transmitting the virus to other countries, said Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, Secretary Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination. While sharing his experience of attending a meeting of oversight board in New York he said, "It was embarrassing for me to answer all the international donors who were questioning and equating Pakistan with Nigeria and Afghanistan."
The government is considering different options to find out a way to reach out missed children in North and South Waziristan and accelerate the process of vaccination, he informed. "The ministry has also planned to announce incentives and double the stipend of polio workers in FATA as they would risk their lives while being part of the campaign due to imposition of ban on vaccination by Taliban."
Running a vaccination campaign in FATA where the health system is crumbled and people even don't have lifesaving facilities raise suspicions among its inhabitants. Vaccination does not matter to them but for the eradication of polio, vaccination of each and every child do count, he added.
During the event Inspector General of Police Islamabad Sikander Hayat, Chief of Islamabad Territory Police Dr Sultan Azam Temuri (PSP) were given polio hero awards for making it sure to administer polio drops in transit points in Islamabad and successfully running the campaign in the capital city. Volunteers of Bahria University who participated in the campaign were also awarded certificates. Special tribute was paid to the deceased policeman Zakir Khan Afridi who was killed during the recent campaign in Peshawar.