PESHAWAR, Sept 16: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has shown concern over detection of polio among the vaccinated children in the areas where vaccination coverage was more than the national target of 95 per cent.
Officials said that government sought help of World Health Organisation (WHO) in strengthening post-campaign monitoring to ensure that all the children received oral polio vaccine.
The concerns were shown by Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastagir Akhtar during a meeting with a delegation, led by adviser to WHO director general Hussein A. Gezairy on Sunday.
The meeting decided to run 10 two-week campaigns in all districts for five consecutive months to stem the tide of virus circulation, officials said.
Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah, focal person (technical) for Chief Minister’s Secretariat, told Dawn that government was extremely upset by the presence of polio virus among the children above five years.
“The WHO says that the virus emerges at the last stages of the polio eradication campaigns. For example, India had recorded polio virus in 90 per cent people above 60 months one year before it was declared polio-free,” he said.
Dr Shah said that WHO suspected that the virus detected among children in Mardan, Swabi and Torghar might have originated from Karachi owing to demographic proximity of those districts.
The genetic sampling of the virus was being carried out to ascertain its actual source, he added.
About detection of polio among 13 children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa despite vaccination, the delegation said that the children had received trivalent polio vaccine in the fixed centres and recommended bivalent vaccines against PI and PIII types of polio virus as the same were being used in National Immunisation Days (NID) campaigns.
Dr Shah said that WHO had also agreed to increase age-limit of the target children to 10 years in the high-risk districts upon availability of resources.
Presently, about 50 per cent of the total vaccinated children are monitored by WHO in four high-risk districts -- Mardan, Charsadda, Peshawar and Nowshera.
The post-campaign monitoring data is compiled by WHO from evaluating the vaccination status of only .1 per cent children in all union councils. The WHO, which monitored vaccination of 50 per cent covered children in high-risk and only 25 per cent in moderate districts, will evaluate the campaign data from all 993 union councils.
The meeting also expressed concern over the failure of vaccinators to immunise 92,000 children out of the target five million during the July campaign in 25 districts owing to their non-availability and refusal by parents.
The meeting was informed that unvaccinated children remained careers for two to four weeks during which they continued to spread the virus.
“We have requested WHO and other partners for supply of vaccines because we need huge quantity of vaccines for the 10 campaigns,” Dr Shah said.
He said that health department would also need human resources because presently there were four NIDs in one year but now they would be conducting two campaigns every month.
Meanwhile, Governor Barrister Masood Kausar told the delegation in a meeting on Sunday that an uncertain situation hampered their efforts to reach all children.
Terrorism, he said, was also one of the problems for which the government was devising strategies to create friendly environment for vaccinators.
The government had allocated Rs400 million to strengthen its polio eradication campaign in Fata, he said.