PESHAWAR: Caretaker Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mohammad Azam Khan on Monday said that the eradication of poliovirus from the province was impeded by its “geographical situation”.
“KP is facing issues in polio eradication due to its specific geographical situation. Five border points have been established in order to stop the virus’s transfer from neighbouring Afghanistan,” Mr Khan told a meeting of the National Task Force for Eradication of Poliovirus.
He attended the meeting, which was chaired by caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, via a video link, according to an official statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Secretariat here.
The chief minister said that the presence of poliovirus in environmental samples in Peshawar was a matter of serious concern and that steps were being taken to address the issue.
Says five border points set up to prevent virus transfer
He said that misconceptions prevailed in the minds of some people regarding polio drops and they should be addressed with the help of religious scholars.
“The role of religious scholars [in addressing misconceptions about polio vaccination] is really important, so an effective plan needs to be developed by them to sensitise people,” he said.
Mr Khan said that the provincial government, in collaboration with other partners, was taking steps to overcome the issue and that the role being played by the provincial health department, civil administration, police, Pakistan Army and donor agencies for it should be appreciated.
He said that the provincial government was committed to eradicating poliovirus from the province.
The chief minister informed the meeting that a total of 246 polio cases were reported in 2014 from across the province but the number declined to 93 in 2019 and 14 in 2022.
He said that the province reported only two polio cases in the current year due to the joint efforts of the relevant departments.
“The provincial government highly values the efforts of the front-line polio workers in bringing down the number of virus cases,” he said.
Mr Khan said that his government was committed to making the province polio-free.
He said that well-coordinated efforts were being made for the purpose and that they’re yielding encouraging results.
VACCINATION: The health department on Monday said that polio drops would be administered to 7.478 million children in the province during the ongoing five-day vaccination campaign to be held in two phases.
In a statement issued here, the department said that the first phase, which started on Monday, would be concluded on October 6 with over 6.362 million children of Peshawar, Kohat, Mardan, Malakand and Hazara divisions being inoculated against the virus.
It added that over 1.116 million children of Dera Ismail Khan and Bannu divisions would be administered anti-polio drops in the second phase of vaccination from October 9 to October 13.
The department said that children would also get vitamin A doses during the campaign.
It added that a total of 34,551 teams of trained polio workers were participating in the vaccination drive and they included 31,151 mobile, 1,953 fixed and 1,447 transit teams.
The department also said that 54,567 police personnel would be deployed to provide security to those teams.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2023