PESHAWAR: The government was working on emergency lines to achieve its goal of making the province free of poliovirus, said Provincial Minister for Health Taimur Khan Jhagra.

Addressing a news conference here on Thursday, he said that government was well-prepared to tackle the threats posed by the outbreak of 2019-Novel Coronavirus in neighbouring China.

He said that security of vaccinators was enhanced for National Immunisation Day anti-polio vaccination drive starting on Monday. “We have enhanced security of the health workers, who go door-to-door in the entire province to ensure immunisation of children. They are our heroes,” he said.

The minister, who recently assumed charge of health department in addition to his permanent portfolio finance, said that poliovirus had long been eradicated from the world except Pakistan and Afghanistan where the virus was in circulation and rendered unvaccinated children crippled.

“We have to do away with misconceptions surrounding polio immunisation to safeguard our children from vaccine-preventable childhood ailment,” he said.

Taimur Jhagra says security of vaccinators enhanced

Mr Jhagra lauded the efforts of vaccinators and said that security was further beefed up in view of attacks on health workers during polio duty so that they could work in safe environment. However, he cautioned the polio staff against showing laxity in duty and warned them of strict action.

The minister said that government would issue Sehat Insaf Cards to the entire population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from the new financial year to enable them to get free treatment at the hospital on government’s expense.

He said that notifications issued by two ministers appointing focal person and a committee to run the hospitals in Bannu and Kohat had been revoked. He said that government wanted to build new hospitals but improving services at the existing health facilities was a priority.

Health Secretary Mohammad Yahya Akhunzada said on the occasion that 6.8 million children below five years would be administered vaccine during the four-day campaign in which about 50,000 workers would visit houses to vaccinate children.

“The government has issued directives for compensating the families of the two lady health workers killed in Parmoli village in Swabi district last month during polio vaccination drive,” he said. He added that heirs of the deceased LHWs would receive Rs4.4 million each.

Mr Akhunzada urged media, religious scholars and all segments of society to play role for creating demand for polio vaccination to eliminate the virus and ensure safe future for their children.

He said that it was the national cause to persuade parents to ensure that their children get two drops of oral polio vaccine in every campaign till five years. The propaganda against polio vaccination was wrong because the disease had been eliminated from all countries, except Pakistan and Afghanistan, using the same vaccines, he said.

“We have made significant progress with regard to quality vaccination in the recently-held drive,” said the health secretary.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020