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Polio campaign in Islamabad 6,000 children missed out

August 14, 2012


ISLAMABAD, Aug 13: World Health Organisation said on Monday that the recent polio immunization campaign had missed out 6,000 children in the city.

“The figure has been derived from the authenticated control room data of polio cell of the ICT and the Capital Development Authority,” WHO's polio chief, Dr Alias Durray told Dawn on Monday.

Of the 34 million children under five years of age that the three-day National Immunization Drive (NID) conducted from July 16-18 targeted across the country, over 200,000 lived in Islamabad Capital Territory, "More efforts are needed to limit such a big miss in future," emphasised the WHO official.

Earlier, at a meeting chaired by polio ambassador Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, Dr Durray informed the officials that there was a large number of children in the capital city that were constantly being missed.

He said that although the environmental samples were collected every week and there were no cases detected, "we still need to be more alert as the virus is circulating."

The deputy commissioner Amir Ali Ahmed also expressed same views and said that polio outreach was a problem in the city specifically in the private high rise buildings.

The revelations were made by the deputy commissioner during a presentation given to polio ambassador Aseefa Bhutto Zardari on polio coverage by the Islamabad Capital Territory administration and the Capital Development Authority.

Mr Ali informed the participants: “The demographics of the capital with 45 per cent urban population, 14 per cent urban slums and 40 per cent rural villages which posed a challenge in terms of outreach by the polio teams.”

The official informed the meeting that coverage of upcoming private high rise buildings and slums remained an issue for the polio teams.

He said that mostly people get their children immunised by private hospitals or don't get the drops at all.

Both the officials from the CDA and ICT agreed that refusals from private schools need to be addressed by engaging Private Educational Institution Regulatory Authority (PEIRA).

However, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari said that it should be made mandatory for all private schools to vaccinate their children against polio and private hospitals should also be contacted in this regard.

However, polio ambassador asserted that there should be adequate security arrangements for polio workers in Islamabad.

Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and PM's Polio Focal person Shahnaz Wazir Ali said Islamabad was also a real challenge in terms of polio eradication with more than 500,000 people traveling in and out of the city throughout the year.

Ms Wazir urged the CDA chairman to speak to the Imam of Faisal and other mosques to raise awareness about polio though heir Friday sermons.