KARACHI: The provincial health authorities have expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the recently concluded three-day polio campaign and claimed that the vaccinators have covered up to 98 per cent of the targeted population in Karachi, while figures for the rest of Sindh are being assessed.
“It is a great success for us, everyone involved in the national polio drive is happy to see that the greatest part of our target has been accomplished,” said caretaker provincial health minister Dr Syed Junaid Ali Shah while speaking to Dawn.
“Our vaccinators have done a great job despite the fact that they worked in dangerous conditions. I have been told that they have covered 98 per cent of the target population, over 2.1 million of Karachi children have been immunised,” said Dr Shah.
The city had the majority of children (2,254,952) out of 7.6 million children of Sindh who were to be immunised.
The minister said that majority of the five per cent children in Karachi who had missed out in the campaign belonged to the families living in Pakhtun-dominated neighbourhoods, whereas certain people showed reluctance to get their children immunised.
Dr Aslam Pervez, district officer (preventive health), said that the polio campaign had been completed in all 18 towns of Karachi, including SITE and Orangi towns where it started on April 18.
“We started the campaign in these two towns belatedly on April 18 and have done completed it as well,” he said.
He expressed satisfaction over the results of the campaign and said the percentage of polio coverage was ‘commendable’.
“Our vaccinators have done commendable job as they always do despite all sorts of dangers. This time round, despite security concerns the results are much better, they are between 98 and 99 per cent, for which we are also indebted to our people, who supported us more than ever to get their children immunised,” he said.
He said the children who still had missed out in the campaign that effectively lasted a week instead of three days as it was originally planned would be immunised quietly to avoid any disturbances and interruptions. The expanded programme of immunisation (EPI) Sindh had carried out an exclusive three-day polio campaign from April 11 in Gadap for the children who missed out because of some violent incidents.
Gadap was again included in the recent national polio drive, yet officials admitted that parts of this volatile town were still not covered.
Most children in Karachi are in its Gadap town (more than 218,000) and the least in Gulberg where teams administered some 71,884 children.
Besides, parts of Baldia Town have also not been covered because of security reasons.
Officials said that apart from a single firing incident in Baldia Town, in which two vaccinators — both sisters — and a police guard escaped unhurt, no violence was reported against the polio teams.
Dr Shah, however, said the uncovered areas would not be left out. “Our vaccinators will continue their work. They will cover those children in a quiet campaign so that we can achieve our goal to make our province polio-free,” he said.
He said the figures about the total coverage in Sindh were still being compiled.
As many as 33.5 million children under the age of five years from across the country were targeted to be immunised in the campaign.
The campaign, particularly in UC-4 had been abruptly ended twice after attacks on a WHO doctor and several polio vaccinators last year.