PESHAWAR: The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), which had raised global concerns over frequent cases of polio a couple of years ago, has been freed from the virus of the crippling disease during the past one year.

“Fata completed one year without any polio case on July 27, 2017 as the last polio case from the region was reported on July 27, 2016. Not a single case is reported from any part of the area so far whereas only two polio cases were reported in 2016,” said an official statement issued in connection with World Polio Day.

The polio day was observed in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and functions were organised in this regard. A function was held at Fata Secretariat’s Emergency Operation Centre (ECO) and Secretary Social Sector Yousaf Rahim vaccinated a child.

The wild poliovirus is now only endemic in three countries i.e. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Pakistan has made a strong commitment to achieve the goal of polio eradication which remained a top national priority.

Several fieldworkers and officials involved in the anti-polio drive in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were killed and wounded in attacks by militants.

The statement said that polio programme in Fata was achieving a high level of performance with no case reported so far in 2017. It said that fieldworkers had achieved National Emergency Action Plan’s (NEAP) 95 per cent target for 2016-17 in at least three anti-polio campaigns.

Speaking on the occasion, Yousaf Rahim reemphasised to focus on high risk mobile population, reaching the missed children and ensuring vaccination of every child in every campaign.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said that collective efforts at all tiers of health governance led to the near accomplishment of total eradication of polio from the province. A statement said that he was addressing certificates distribution ceremony to mark the day. He said that government made efforts to secure the coming generation and ensuring the province polio-free.

He said that the province had registered 68 polio cases but in the current year only a single case of polio was reported. He termed it a big achievement. He appreciated the role of polio workers in the eradication of the crippling disease.

Mr Khattak said that government took concrete measures including establishment of emergency operation centres at provincial level for the polio eradication. In 2017, the single polio case did not affect the child because the team reached him, he said.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

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