KPK on way to get rid of polio PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is on its way to get rid of polio in line with goal set forth in the National Emergency Polio Eradication Plan, which seeks to halt circulation of polio by December 2016 before its eradication in 2017, according to experts.
They said that Pakistan was on its way to be declared polio-free by the World Health Organisation. For the purpose, the country needed to remain polio-free for three consecutive years, they added.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has cut down polio cases by half as it had 14 polio cases in 2015 which slipped to seven in 2016. Pakistan recorded 39 cases in 2015 compared to 14 this year. It shows an overall improvement in the battle against poliomyelitis.
“Despite marked success, we are laying focus on unvaccinated children and addressing refusals against vaccination in the areas, which weren’t covered,” said the experts.
Experts call for continuation of quality vaccination
To ensure quality vaccination, the anti-polio campaigns were carried out countrywide simultaneously to vaccinate children and materialise the plan to purge the country of poliovirus in 2017.
Pakistan is close to polio eradication as a result of two-decade long programme, which saw many ups and downs, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where anti-vaccine elements actively campaigned to deprive children of vaccination.
Anti-polio segments advanced argument that the government was sending health workers at the doors of people for polio drops while the people were not treated well for more serious ailments like hepatitis, cancer etc. They also spread misconceptions about vaccination to their advantage.
Multi-pronged campaigns by local clerics and prayer leaders hampered the anti-polio drive in the province. Propagators alleged that immunisation was meant to make recipients incapable of producing children and vaccination was disallowed before occurrence of a disease in Islam.
Experts said that the global eradication campaign eliminated the childhood disease in 122 countries, using the same oral polio vaccine and it didn’t contain any agents supposed to cause any problem.
With the defeat of Taliban, there is an increasing demand for vaccination but the government has to plug loopholes in the system and reach a few thousands unvaccinated children, who posed threats to lives of others.
“For this purpose, special directives have been issued to deputy commissioners to supervise anti-polio campaigns in areas of their jurisdiction in an effort to achieve targets of the national plan,” said experts.
Environmental water sample had tested negative for poliovirus in Peshawar, which was declared one of the three poliovirus reservoirs in the country.
Experts said that water samples recently emerged positive for virus in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi which meant that the children were at risk of getting the infection.
“Polio is the only disease in the world which can be completely eradicated through vaccination. Other diseases cannot be eradicated. The low transmission season will also help the health department to halt circulation of virus by end of the current year,” said experts.
Target campaigns in October and November will vaccinate children in high-risk union councils throughout the province and the year will end with a full-scale campaign in December.
Experts said that the province made remarkable progress on polio front and was set to become polio-free if it continued quality vaccination, which was required in the final stage of polio eradication.