WHO chief alerts Imran to polio threat in KP

Published June 7, 2013
A child receiving a polio vaccination. — Photo by AFP/File
A child receiving a polio vaccination. — Photo by AFP/File

PESHAWAR, June 6: World Health Organisation, Pakistan polio chief Dr Elias Durry on Thursday apprised Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan in Lahore of the threat to the health of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa children due to non-vaccination, it is learned. PTI, which has the most seats in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, leads a coalition government in the province.

According to the relevant officials, the meeting has coincided with the confirmation of three fresh polio cases from Federally Administered Tribal Areas by National Institute of Health.

They said Fata had reported five, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa four and Sindh two of this year’s 13 countrywide polio cases. According to them, among the fresh cases are 23-month-old Ilyas Khan from Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency, 22-month-old Ajmal Khan from Bakakhel, Frontier Region Bannu, and four-month-old Mehran Ali from Bara.

The officials said Ilyas Khan hadn’t been vaccinated against polio for six months due to health workers’ failure to reach his restive area, while Ajmal Khan had received one dose of oral polio vaccine during the last six months.

They added that Mehran Ali had been unimmunised so far.

The officials said WHO had publicly recorded its reservations about polio eradication efforts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in Peshawar.

They said the PTI chairman, who had inaugurated various polio campaigns in the country’s several cities, apprised the WHO, Pakistan polio chief of his eagerness to see fight against polio succeed.

The officials said Imran Khan carefully listened to Dr Elias Durry’s concerns about Khyber Pakhtunkhwa children’s vaccination and assured him that he would convey them to the PTI-led provincial government for necessary action on emergency basis.

“Imran Khan said he would issue special instructions to the provincial chief minister (who belongs to PTI) to ensure vaccination of all children under five as ensuring better health care in the province is his government’s top priority,” an official said.

The official said the WHO, Pakistan polio chief informed the PTI chairman about his organisation’s role in polio campaigns and problems faced by vaccinators.

“During the meeting, Imran’s attitude was positive. He said his government was committed to making Khyber Pakhtunkhwa polio-free,” he said.

The official said the appointment of Ishfaq Khan as the principal secretary to Chief Minister Pervez Khattak was a clear indication that how PTI was committed to coping with polio-related matters. He said Ishfaq’s work as the health secretary was much appreciated by donor agencies.

“Now, he (Ishfaq) is in a position from where polio campaign could be managed at the district level very effectively,” he said.

The officials said they had pinned high hopes on the PTI government that it would come up with an effective strategy to improve anti-polio efforts and counter threat to vaccinators in the province.

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