ISLAMABAD: Although the third National Polio Campaign of the year 2015 was slated to start from Monday, but the drive has been postponed in at least nine cities across the country due to security reasons and adverse weather conditions.
In Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Quetta, the polio campaign was suspended due to the impending Pakistan Day parade on March 23. In Karachi, the campaign has been moved forward due to security reasons and the city has been divided into two portions for the purposes of the campaign. In parts of Abbotabad, Chitral, Mansehra, Astore and Skardu, the campaign has been affected by heavy snowfall.
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According to statement issued by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS)on Sunday, the polio campaign will kick start around the country on Monday, except in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Quetta “due to the mobilization of security forces for the March 23 parade”.
“The campaign in Rawalpindi has been rescheduled for Mar 24 whereas in Islamabad it has been rescheduled for Mar 30. The dates for Quetta are being worked out,” it says.
The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) head Rana Muhammad Safdar told Dawn that district administrations in Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Quetta informed the EOC that security officials were not available for the campaigns, so they should be postponed for one month.
Pakistan Day parade, security concerns and unfavourable weather to delay campaign in nine districts
“All arrangements for the campaigns were complete but providing security to polio workers is our foremost priority. In light of the recent attack on polio workers in Quetta, no risk could be taken and it was decided to postpone the campaign,” he said.
In other parts of the country, the campaign has been postponed because of heavy snowfall, he said.
“Karachi has been divided into two portions and a campaign would be conducted in only one portion at a time. In certain high-risk union councils of Karachi, a separate, shorter campaign would be held,” he said.
Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell had announced that the latest campaign due to start on Monday would vaccinate around 35.5 million children under the age of five.
Door to door visits would be made by 800,000 teams of polio workers, while over 9000 teams would be deputed to vaccination centres established all over the country. An additional 4000 teams would vaccinate children at transit points between Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the rest of the country.
The countrywide polio campaign would cover 36 districts of Punhab, 25 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 22 districts and 18 towns of Sindh, 30 districts of Balochistan, 10 districts of AJK, seven districts of Gilgit-Baltistan, seven agencies and six frontier regions of Fata and two districts of Islamabad Capital Territory.
The cell had also announced that during the campaign, vitamin A supplements would be given to children between the ages of six-months and five-years.
Published in Dawn March 16th , 2015