LAHORE: The Punjab Health Department declared on Wednesday 73 union councils in the provincial capital high-risk areas for wild poliovirus after a report issued by the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, confirmed virus in Lahore.

The sewer samples were collected from a drain on Outfall Road and sent to the NIH, Islamabad, for testing. Earlier, the environmental samples drawn during last three consecutive months from various parts of the city were found negative.

“We have declared 73 union councils of Lahore high risk for wild poliovirus in the wake of the NIH report,” Punjab Health Director General Dr Zahid Pervaiz told Dawn.

He said though Punjab did not report even a single case of polio this year, his department had declared 10 districts high risk for this disease to curtail it in a better way.

“The department is going to launch a two-day anti-polio vaccine drive from May 5 in these districts including Lahore, Dera Ghazi Khan, Mianwali, Multan and Toba Tek Singh,” he said.

He said investigation was under way by experts of the health department to find out link of the genetic sequence of the virus strain in the wake of the report which confirmed presence of virus in Lahore.

Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique said the area from where the sample was taken was inhabited by the Pakhtun and visited frequently by the people of their province. He said earlier such a sample was received from Rawalpindi upon which an anti-polio campaign was launched in the city.

Similarly, he said, campaigns would be launched in Lahore on May 5, 12 and 19.

vaccinators: Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khwaja Salman Rafiq says Shahbaz Sharif has accorded approval to filling more than 300 vacancies of vaccinators for strengthening children’s immunisation programme.

He quoted the chief minister as saying that neutral persons should be inducted into committees for ensuring recruitment on merit.

Presiding over a meeting of Steering Committee on Extended Programme of Immunisation (EPI) on Wednesday, Salman Rafiq directed to formulate correct data of children under vaccination programme in all districts.

Prof Farkhunda Kaukab of the Institute of Public Health, Prof Waqar (Child Specialist) Children Hospital, EPI Director Health Dr Munir Ahmad, WHO representative Dr Ubaidul Islam, Dr Nisar Cheema of USAID, Dr Aslam Chaudhry of Milend Gates Foundation and other respective officers attended the meeting.

Rafiq said the officers furnishing wrong data on diseases and EPI coverage would be proceeded against as wrong reporting would not be tolerated.

The experts present in the meeting while commenting on anti-measles campaign said the drive was launched by the Punjab government in September last year, therefore, “it is not suitable time to give booster dozes against measles now”.

It was decided that a meeting of working group should be convened next week for holding consultation with professors of paediatrics of different medical colleges regarding launching of anti-measles campaign so that arrangements could be finalised for the purpose.

He said the government had already issued a sum of Rs650 million for the purchase of anti-measles vaccine.

Salman said an awareness campaign on the pattern of dengue be initiated with the help of elected representatives for highlighting the immunisation programme so that people could benefit from free-of-cost vaccination facility to protect children from nine diseases.

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