ISLAMABAD: The Polio Virology Laboratory of the National Institute of Health has confirmed a fresh polio case from Peshawar, taking the countrywide number to 21 in the first three months of this year.
“Though the one-and-a-half-year-old is a resident of Hayatabad in Peshawar, the patient is reported to have travelled frequently between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” sources said.
The child received polio vaccine six times in both countries and at border posts but a gap of three to four months between the doses was the cause of affliction, the sources said, adding that a child should be vaccinated every month because the efficacy of the oral vaccine starts decreasing after four weeks.
BALOCHISTAN: On the other hand, the Balochistan government has been advised in a meeting held in the federal capital to take stern action for ensuring 100 per cent implementation of anti-polio campaigns.
Though the province reported 73 cases in 2011 and reduced the number to four in 2012 and zero in 2013, complacency resulted in the emergence of 25 cases during 2014 and three this year.
Polio cases are repeatedly being reported from Quetta, Kila Abdullah and Pishin, perhaps due to the presence of the virus in environmental samples, while its epicentre appears to be in Kila Abdullah.
Naseerabad and Jaffarabad districts need special attention in context of circulation of the virus in northern Sindh.
Balochistan advised to ensure 100pc vaccination
Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq informed Balochistan Chief Secretary Saifullah Chattha at a meeting that only 20 to 25pc of Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) had been cleared in the province. The random sampling methodology is conducted soon after polio vaccination campaigns.
Reasons behind low quality campaigns were reported to be inappropriate selection of teams which lacked women members or included those under the age of 18 and inadequate security measures which resulted in cancellation and staggering of the efforts, a government statement revealed.
Zhob missed three campaigns, Sherani two and Quetta one, while campaigns scheduled for last month were delayed because of security concerns.
A March campaign in Loralai was also delayed, while micro plans could not be updated and filed regularly, a press release said.
Another factor increasing the incidence was the geographical location and population movement to and from southern Balochistan and Iran, it stated.
Senator Farooq recommended regular post-campaign reviews by the chief secretary and punishment over negligence.
“The Balochistan government should also hold an overdue provincial taskforce meeting.” She also called for strengthening permanent transit points to ensure vaccination of travellers and involvement of women community volunteers in problematic areas of Quetta.
The National Emergency Operation Centre’s Coordinator Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar told Dawn that there had been improvement in Karachi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata but vaccination campaigns in some areas of Balochistan, rural Sindh and Peshawar still faced hurdles.
A polio case in Loralai had been reported after a gap of three years and fears persist about emergence of more cases because environmental samples are continuously coming positive for the virus.
“It has been decided not only to improve the quality of campaigns but that they should not be delayed,” Dr Safdar said.
He said in reply to a question that there were many options under consideration to control the issue of missed children.
“One of the options is online monitoring through mobile phone tracking because during every campaign a number of areas are missed as teams try to shift responsibility towards each other,” he said.
Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2015