Efforts have been made to incorporate new interventions in the new three-year plan to combat the disease
The PC-1 for Polio Eradication Initiative for 2016-18 worth $311 million is ready and is set to be tabled at Central Development Working Party (CDWP) meeting scheduled for the first week of November. After getting approved, PC-1 will be presented before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for final endorsement.
“Efforts have been made to incorporate new interventions in the new three-year plan to combat the disease and achieve the goal of interrupting the transmission of poliovirus by 2016,” National Emergency Operation Center for Polio Coordinator Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar said.
Talking to The Express Tribune regarding, Safdar said, “All new plans for polio eradication are being formulated keeping in mind past mistakes and ensuring they contain all essential interventions required to wipe out polio.”
He said while challenges still exist, many successful efforts were made in 2015 to bring down the count.
“The nationwide polio drive carried out in September showed the number of children who missed polio drops reduced to 100,000, parental refusal reduced from 3% to 0.07%, the number of infected districts decreased from 31 to 17 and the percentage of positive environment samples decreased from 34 to 20.” He said efforts needed to be doubled to ensure goals were met.
Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq said, “2015 saw an 85% decline in the number of polio cases in the country.”
Farooq added, “The programme has benefited immensely from strategies like Continuous community-protected vaccination campaigns, hujra drives and vaccination points for internally displaced persons at check posts and district and agency borders.”
Lack of awareness
Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences Childrens Hospital Head Paediatrician Dr Tabish Hazir said very few people in the country know when a child is crippled by polio, 85% children living in the same area are carriers of the virus.
“Most of these children do not get paralysed but suffer from high grade fever, flu, body pain, which parents don’t know is part of the infection,” he said. He added two drops of polio vaccine, along with inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), was one way to eradicate polio.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2015.