LAHORE: The anti-polio campaign in Punjab will resume on July 20 after a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Initially, polio vaccination activities will be carried out in 44 union councils of Faisalabad and 14 union councils of Attock.

To review the arrangements for the anti-polio drive, a meeting jointly chaired by Provincial Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid and Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik was held here on Friday.

The meeting was attended by Health Secretary retired Capt Muhammad Usman, Commissioner Asif Bilal Lodhi and officers concerned while divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners and chief executive officers of District Health Authority participated through video link.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr Rashid said efforts to eradicate polio were facing more challenges in urban areas. She said due to the disruption in the campaign, children up to the age of five years are at risk of contracting poliovirus. She directed Mr Usman to prepare a comprehensive plan to improve EPI coverage along with the campaign against polio.

The chief secretary directed all deputy commissioners to monitor the campaign in the districts themselves and keep a regular watch on the situation, adding that any negligence would not be tolerated. He said he would personally review the performance monthly in this regard.

The CS directed the officers to ensure 100 per cent coverage in the anti-polio drive in the province, saying that a single case report would be tantamount to complete failure. He said that in order to eradicate polio, it was necessary to work with national spirit and the relevant departments, in collaboration with international organizations, should play an active role in controlling this deadly disease.

He took a briefing from the deputy commissioners of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan, and DG Khan on anti-polio activities in their respective districts.

The Primary Health secretary informed the meeting that the anti-polio campaign would be launched in 44 union councils of Faisalabad and 14 union councils of Attock from July 20 as a case response and it would continue for five days.

During the drive, a target has been set to administer the polio vaccine to a total of 317,783 children in 58 union councils. He said that a comprehensive strategy has been prepared to launch a full-fledged anti-polio campaign in other districts of the province from August 17. He said that so far this year four cases of polio have been reported in the province.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2020

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