Federal govt may replicate KP’s model for anti-polio drive

Published March 18, 2015
Health ministry officials believe one-day drives will ensure security of vaccinators.—AFP/File
Health ministry officials believe one-day drives will ensure security of vaccinators.—AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Some officials of the National Health Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring Cell on Tuesday expressed the willingness to rethink the way anti-polio campaigns are conducted in the country. They thought that the campaigns should be a one-day affair.

It may be noted that on Tuesday (the second day of the three-day campaign), two female polio workers and a police official were killed by unknown gunmen in the Mansehra district of KP.

Know more: Bill Gates praises KP’s anti-polio campaign

An official of the ministry of NHS explained to Dawn that the campaign spread over two or three days allowed militants to monitor the drive on the first day and plot attacks on the vaccination teams the next day.


Health ministry officials believe one-day drives will ensure security of vaccinators


So far around 80 polio team members and security officials guarding them have been killed and over 50 injured.

Officials in the NHS ministry believed that the best option was to adopt Sehat Ka Insaf model introduced by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which has now been converted into the Sehat Ka Ittehad (SKI).

“Their campaigns last just one day during which a ban is imposed on pillion riding. Hardly any attack has been observed in those areas of KP where the one-day campaign has been introduced,” they said.

The one-day campaigns are carried out on Sundays. That allows deploying more personnel for the security of the polio teams. Besides, due to the weekend holiday, the ban on pillion riding does not disturb office-goers.

An official said KP Health Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai had requested the federal government authorities in January this year to adopt the one-day polio campaigns.

However, in a letter dated January 23, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Ayesha Raza Farooq said polio authorities had a lot to learn from the experience of the one-day campaigns conducted during the first quarter of 2014 in Peshawar where some of the grey areas subsequently allowed the virus an opportunity to bounce back. As a result, she added, 29 wild polio cases and multiple positive environmental samples were reported.

“Ensuring fool proof campaign preparedness and regular post-campaign monitoring must not be compromised in all interventions planned under Sehat ka Ittehad,” she stated in the letter.

However, officials in the ministry of NHS said the federal government should start the one-day campaigns to protect the lives of polio and security officials.

Rana Safdar, the head of the National Emergency Operation Centre, told Dawn that the one-day campaigns cannot be held all over the country because it required a huge investment and workforce.

“Moreover, it is difficult to impose a ban on pillion riding in rural areas. Three times more security force will be required to carry out the one-day campaigns. However, the idea can be implemented in some specific areas,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2015

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