HYDERABAD: The health authorities have disclosed that out of the targeted 9 million children in the recently concluded anti-polio campaign, 3.3pc or 297,000 children under five years of age still missed the vaccination.
They also claimed that 101pc coverage of the overall target. Percentage of these children was officially disclosed in a press release issued at the end of recent campaign.
The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for polio eradication compiles the figures of all the six divisions of Sindh, including the provincial metropolis.
The EOC said it “completed December polio campaign in the province with an overall coverage of 101 per cent of the target”.
It said extra percentage could be attributed to influx of guest children (in Sindh) through seasonal migration during December.
It said that total target of children under five was 9 million, out of which approximately 2.3 million were residing in Karachi. As per a break-up, 95.2pc coverage was achieved in Karachi against the target of 2.293m; 102.1pc in Hyderabad division against the target of 2.16m; 103.7pc in Larkana against the target of 1.514m; 101.8pc in Shaheed Benazirabad against the target of 1.093m; 103.9pc in Sukkur against the target of 1.229m; and 103pc in Mirpurkhas division against the target of 785,475.
An ECO spokesman said that with a satisfactory campaign across the country and regular polio drives planned till June, it was a good start to reverse trend of polio cases in Sindh. He said that despite high coverage and satisfactory percentages, there were pockets of missed children and refusals.
Teams are engaging communities to reduce refusals. However, for polio eradication one must consistently vaccinate 95pc of target, hence December campaign is a solid foundation to build on over next six months.
The EOC again appealed to public to cooperate with teams and appealed to media to spread message that vaccination was encouraged by all religious scholars, medical associations such as Pakistan Paediatric Association and the whole world, including over 50 Islamic countries, had eradicated polio through using the same oral polio vaccine.
Meanwhile, Larkana division reported the highest number of still missed children in the campaign, it was learnt through sources. Larkana division has the highest number of still miss children i.e., 20,878 followed by Hyderabad division with 17,734; Sukkur division 13,331; Shaheed Benazirabad 8,854 and Mirpurkhas 6,615. In the rest of Sindh, 6.974m children were vaccinated against the target of 6.78m children.
Despite efforts of the authorities, families still feel reluctant amidst different perceptions to get their children inoculated. Sindh is now only after Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where 73 cases had been confirmed out of the nationwide 111 cases.
In the current year, 17 cases have been reported in Sindh with latest coming from Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Badin. Environmental sampling would be done again to collect samples of sewerage from designated sites to determine prevalence of poliovirus in environment.
Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2019