PESHAWAR, April 3: A World Health Organisation mission comprising foreign experts on Wednesday arrived in the capital city to monitor polio campaigns in Peshawar in particular and in the province in general.
The mission led by Dr Mohammed Al Mohammadi will stay in town for a fortnight, according to the relevant officials.
The officials said polio emergency had been declared in Peshawar.
They said WHO had been expressing concerns about poor vaccination campaigns and therefore, it had sent the mission for helping local authorities control the situation.
The officials said Dr Mohammadi had played an instrumental role in polio eradication in Somalia, Yemen and Sudan.
They said the mission decided to oversee emergency polio campaign in Peshawar, which recorded six of the total 28 polio cases in the province in 2012.
The officials said the mission would meet governor, chief minister and chief secretary and hold talks with members of the district administration for effective immunisation.
Meanwhile, WHO chief in Pakistan Dr Elias Durry told Dawn that his organisation was unhappy over the performance of the government regarding vaccination campaigns because leaving children unvaccinated meant exposing them to polio.
“We need more effective immunisation drives in collaboration with community, religious leaders, teachers and civil society members to safeguard the future of the children. We have to do away with misconception of parents about efficacy of vaccines through community mobilisation,” he said.
Dr Durry said vaccination efforts faced multiple problems but there was a need for immunising all targeted children.
He said killing of polio workers by militants had triggered fears and urged to fully utilise services of the district and union council polio eradication committees to ensure that children are immunised properly.
“We in collaboration with the local health department have chalked out micro plans for vaccination. Every campaign should target all children throughout the province to check transmission of polio virus,” he said.
The WHO chief in Pakistan said there should be coordinated polio campaigns and accountability to make vaccination programme a success and fulfill the country’s commitment to eradication of vaccine-preventable childhood ailment He said children from polio endemic countries, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, put at risk the children in countries, which had been declared polio-free long ago.
Dr Durry said the mission had been tasked with seeing the campaign and pinpointing immunisation problems for corrective measures.
Health workers threaten boycott
The health workers in Peshawar district have expressed concern over delay in disbursement of honoraria to them for performing duty during the last five rounds of polio eradication campaign.
They have threatened to boycott the next round of anti-polio campaign if the amount is not paid to them.
Speaking at a press conference at Peshawar Press club on Wednesday, Paramedical Association district president Mohammad Anwar Safi said authorities failed to release the allowances to paramedical staff and other workers, who performed duty during anti-polio campaign.
Mr Safi said that despite security threats, they participated in the anti-polio drive. It was totally unjust that honoraria were not paid to them, he added. “We are ready to perform duty during the next six rounds of anti-polio drive, but volunteers are not ready to participate in the campaign owing to non-payment of allowances,” he added.
Flanked by the association general secretary Mohammad Zakir Yousafzai, vice president Syed Mubarak Shah and others, Mr Safi said that more than 350 area in-charges and supervisors were engaged to carry out anti-polio drive in district Peshawar.