ISLAMABAD, Dec 4: Despite a massive campaign to highlight the importance of Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), as many as 47,099 children were missed out in recent polio vaccination drive because of parents’ refusal.
The Federal Capital is no exception where parents of 251 children refused to get the mandatory polio drops to their sons and daughters of below five-year age.
Besides, 2,895 children could not be reached because of different reasons including change of addresses or they were out of the city.
According to a data provided by World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 24,968 refusals came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 14,978 from Sindh, 5,068 from Balochistan, 910 from Punjab, 889 from Federally Administered Tribal Area, 32 from AJK and three from Gilgit-Baltistan.
Moreover, during the campaign, held from November 18 to 20, 33.04 million children were successfully vaccinated whereas 2.34 million were missed in the country.
Documents shows 172,000 health workers participated in the polio campaign, which covered 97 per cent area of the country (excluding North and South Waziristan).
Till November 2013, more cases of polio (72) were reported as compared to the same period last year when 57 cases surfaced. Polio patients were mainly found in inaccessible areas.
Head of WHO Polio Programme in Pakistan, Dr Durray Ilyas while talking to mediapersons at WHO head office on Wednesday said that Pakistan had the capacity to eradicate polio by 2014 but it needed an extensive campaign which ensures 100 per cent coverage of children.
“It is a matter of concern for WHO that polio virus has been traveling from Pakistan to other countries. Polio strains have been found in Egypt and then Syria. On the other hand countries like Nigeria have controlled the virus,” he said.
Secretary, Ministry of Health Services, Imtiaz Inayat Elahi said because of poor show at home he had to face embarrassment at international conferences on polio particularly when some strains of Pakistani virus were found in other countries.
“We have contained polio in some areas of the country but some troubled spots remained inaccessible,” he said.
Sameed Arshad, a student of Bahria University, told Dawn that he and other students also participated in the polio campaign as volunteers.
“After two days training we were allowed to go in to the field to convince people about giving polio vaccine to their children,” he said.
Mr Sameed said: “We usually talked with people sitting in cars along with family members so majority of them agreed to our views.
“We also gave polio drops to children. People allowed us to give polio drops to their children, but some of them resisted saying they have already vaccinated their children against the virus,” he said.
“I believe that if everyone starts giving polio vaccine to his/her children, there will be no case of polio after six months. If people will continue refusing, polio will become a big issue for us,” he said.