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PESHAWAR, March 21: The government will depute four assistant commissioners and recruit women vaccinators to strengthen anti-polio vaccination programme at community level in Peshawar, according to officials.

They said that about 250 vaccinators would be recruited to work in the areas where they lived permanently. The vaccinators would be tasked to immunise children as people had trust in local health workers, they said.

Officials said that a plan was being launched on the pattern of Lady Health Worker Programme, which was the most successful public health intervention initiative, to strengthen the vaccination programme.

The women health workers will not be required to carry out immunisation campaigns but they will ensure that children under five years are not left out of vaccination in their areas. They can also visit houses in the neighbourhood to vaccinate children with ease.

The provincial chief secretary has also instructed deputation of four officials of the assistant commissioner rank to supervise anti-polio campaign in all union councils of Peshawar.

The assistant commissioners would be responsible for campaign in the areas under their jurisdiction, officials said. Peshawar, which recorded six cases of polio in 2012, was also responsible for eight other cases in the province owing to which more focus was being laid on it, they added.

Officials said that it was also decided in a meeting to divide the city into four administrative zones to ensure implementation of the plan at the grassroots level.

According to them, virus detected in three children each in Charsadda and Swabi and one each in Haripur and Dir Upper last year resembled the one found in children in Peshawar.

The meeting held recently with chief secretary in the chair identified immigrant population and presence of virus in water and decided to cope with the situation by employing new techniques.

The government stuck to its policy of administering oral polio vaccine to children but it didn’t want to put at risk the lives of those, who carried out the campaign, officials said.

They said that 14 medical officers were also deputed for polio vaccination duty to contain the virus in low transmission season till June and scale up children’s immunity for the high-transmission season.

Though, children living in the city had developed immunity against the virus as the last case was reported in November last year yet vaccination was still needed, officials said.

“The residents of Peshawar have got enough doses of vaccine because we ran several back-to-back campaigns here. After detection of virus in six children in 2012, we ran as many case response campaigns to target two million children,” they said.

Water samples had continuously been testing positive from the two environmental sites in Larama and Shaheen Muslim Town union councils. The same virus was found in immigrant children, who belonged to other districts but visited Peshawar briefly and got virus.

Officials said that children were also coming to Peshawar from tribal areas and Afghanistan so it was decided to strengthen transit immunisation points besides putting in place a system where new children could be vaccinated.

Officials said that government had allocated Rs407 million for the purpose out of which 16 million would be spent on strengthening vaccination programmes in line with the commitment pledged with the international community.

The province, which recorded 26 cases last year out of the country’s 58, had three cases -- one each in Bannu, Mardan and Malakand -- that year, officials said.

The chief secretary directed all the commissioners and deputy commissioners to monitor the polio vaccination and take disciplinary action against those showing laxity in vaccination.