Officials involved in polio eradication expect a delay in campaigns due to the recent earthquake in the heavily-affected areas, if not across the entire province.
However, decisions pertaining to campaign postponement will be addressed by the Emergency Operation Cell situated in the provincial capital based on a “preparedness report” from the districts.
The three-day national immunisation drive was scheduled for November. It would be followed by a catch-up round to inoculate children missed in the first round. According to officials, district administrations have been preoccupied in dealing with earthquake victims and collecting data on infrastructure damage. They added it was difficult for them to perform two jobs simultaneously.
“We have not received any official notification pertaining to a delay. However, the current situation suggests the campaign will likely be postponed,” said an official involved with polio eradication. The officials refused to share their identity since they were not authorised to speak to the media.
The campaign was planned for the entire province, thus estimating vaccinations for over 0.9 million children with the help of at least 3,149 teams and 703 team leads. In addition, at least 1550 fixed, over 728 transit and over 107 roaming teams will take part in the campaign.
EOC Spokesperson Akbar Khan told The Express Tribune preparations were under way and a report will be submitted by each district regarding their groundwork for the polio drive.
“It is still early to decide if the campaign will be delayed, since the verdict depends upon each district’s preparedness report,” said Akbar. He added the decision will be taken following analysis of the reports.
On the other hand, campaigns in Fata will also suffer as a majority of areas in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies were heavily affected by the recent earthquake. “Even if a delay is considered, the decision will only pertain to Bajaur and Mohmand since other areas of the tribal belt were not damaged to the same extent,” said a FATA Secretariat official. He added they were still in the preparatory stages and it was very early to assess if the campaign in Fata would be delayed or cancelled.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2015.