ISLAMABAD: A permanent transit point (PTP) has been established at Islamabad International Airport (IIA) to administer polio drops to children under the age of five years.
All children, including foreigners, are being vaccinated when they reached the airport from within the country or abroad, Additional Deputy Commissioner General Dr Asif Rahim told Dawn.
Islamabad being the capital city is visited by people from across the country as well as abroad and is very much prone to poliovirus importation by children coming from areas with active viral circulation, he said.
Approximately, 18 to 20 international and five to 16 domestic flights are operated from the airport daily.
The airport caters to more than 5,000 passengers of international flights and over 3,000 passengers of domestic flights on a daily basis, the official said.
These passengers have either children travelling with them or come to see off/receive them.
Polio eradication has been declared a health emergency by the government and the capital administration is trying to eradicate the wild poliovirus, he said.
“Currently, as we have reached quite near the goal, the focus is to cover the population on the move as coverage of locals is comparatively easier.”
The virus is moving from place to place in the guts of children so coverage of these moving populations is very important to stop transportation of the virus, he added.
Islamabad Polio Control Room (IPCR) has established the PTP at the IIA as a risk mitigation measure to stop transportation of the wild poliovirus, he said.
The PTP was established with an aim to administer drops to a maximum number of children, he stated, adding people from adjacent localities, including KP and Kashmir, also used the IIA to travel abroad.
The recently-concluded polio campaign in Pakistan suffered hindrances due to negative posts on the social media. This also damaged the image of the country, said the official. The establishment of the PTP at the airport would help improve Pakistan’s image in the world.
Children travelling abroad from the airport will have the mark of black ink on their left pinky nail to indicate that polio drops have been administered to them.
Polio teams work at the PTP in three shifts: morning, evening and night to cover all children arriving at the airport.
Similar PTPs have already been set up at Mandi Mor, Faizabad and Bhara Kahu bus stands and checkpoints, said the official.
Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2019