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Polio campaign: Overcoming cultural barriers

October 16, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Oct 16: The health department in collaboration with World Health Organisation (WHO) have started counting children in high risk union councils for immunisation against polio.

Executive District Officer (EDO) Health Dr Zafar Iqbal Gondal told Dawn on Tuesday that the refusal cases for polio vaccination rose in localities where residents mostly hailed from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

He said that the health department had launched an anti-polio campaign in the district and teams had been tasked to collect the data of the children.

“The basic purpose of counting children is to administer them vaccination against polio through Lady Health Workers. The health department will hire Pashto speaking Lady Health Workers for the purpose,” he said.

He said that the WHO agreed to provide pay to the additional staff. “The language barrier created problems for vaccinators to convince residents from KPK living in high risk areas to administer anti-polio drops to their children.”

“The ongoing campaign will be completed on October 17 and after this, the health department will start a catch up campaign in high risk union councils,” he said. The new staff will be part of the catch up campaign.

He said that 10 union councils in the city including Ratta Amral, Pirwadhai, Ziaul Haq Colony, Dhoke Hassu, Dhoke Mangtal and others, two wards in cantonment areas, including Peshawar Road and adjoining areas and two union councils in Taxila — Jala and Sarai Kala — were vulnerable as there was frequent movement of people coming from KPK.

He said that the campaign in these areas would be launched to provide additional dose of polio vaccination to the children to eliminate the chances of anyone missing the campaign.

“The high risk areas in the city were declining as earlier 22 union councils were declared high risk areas, and this time around only ten, which is a good sign.”