LAHORE - Thanks to poor anti polio reach-out campaigns, 14 districts of Punjab are still a serious hurdle to making Punjab polio free, report campaign monitors.
Fourteen districts, including Lahore, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad, showed poor campaign quality during the three province-wide immunisation drive - 2014. Some areas were completely missed while others were poorly covered as reported by intra-campaign monitors of Punjab government, WHO and Unicef.
Noticing poor campaign quality which poses to be the utmost risk to ‘poliovirus free’ status of Punjab besides epidemiological risk, the government has planned a series of SIAs out of which one concluded in Lahore on Wednesday. The teams will administer polio drops to missed-out children during ‘catch-up days’ on June 5-6.
There are a number of districts with multiple union councils having this problem. Experts believe that districts having persistent pattern must improve quality of teams, supervision and accountability processes. -Rawalpindi, Attock, Sheikhupura, Lahore, Rahim Yar Khan, Layyah, Vehari, Rajanpur and DG Khan are at higher risk of poliovirus infection owing to poor campaigns. Health Department officials have suggested enhanced technical support for Rawalpindi and Lahore with micro-plans for migrant/mobile populations and mapping of congregations at shrines, festivals. They also suggested high quality campaigns with focus on UC - Sub UC level, - intra campaign monitoring and supervision, - post campaign monitoring through Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) and Market Survey. It also suggested ensuring over 95 per cent coverage, no missed-out child due to team while maintaining focus on migrant and mobile populations from polio reservoirs (KP/Fata and Karachi) and effective support to Permanent Transit Sites. Meanwhile, Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab on Health Kh Salman Rafiq has said that no polio case has been reported in Punjab due to effective and vigorous anti-polio campaigns.
Talking to media after administering drops to children in Garhi Shahu area on the 3rd day of special anti-polio campaign on Wednesday, he said that regular immunization campaigns have developed immunity and no child has been affected by polio virus despite positive environmental sample in Lahore.
Director General Health Dr Zahid Pervaiz, EDO Health Lahore Dr Zulfiqar Ali, DOH Lahore Dr Saeed Akhtar and other concerned officers were also present.
Kh Salman Rafiq said that range of anti-polio campaign has been extended from 73 union councils to total 165 UCs of Lahore to the recommendations of WHO. He said that 3800 mobile health teams administered polio drops to 1.57 million children of up to five years of age. He said that polio reservoirs were in KP and Fata. He said that some children out of thousands of families travelling to Punjab carried polio virus and as a result the sewerage water samples of Lahore was tested positive. He said that the type of polio virus found in Lahore was similar to that in Fata. He reiterated that anti-polio campaign would be continued in Lahore till environmental sample is found negative. He also visited Jinnah Hospital and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital to check polio certification counters established for polio vaccination of international travelers.