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Vaccination drive launched in Fata, frontier regions

April 16, 2013

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where the polio virus is still endemic.—File Photo

PESHAWAR/KHAR: A three-day polio campaign for Fata and frontier regions was formally launched during a special function here at Fata Secretariat on Monday.

Fata finance secretary Ghulam Qadir and social sector secretary Dr Aftab Durrani inaugurated the campaign by administering oral polio vaccine to children under five. Overall, the campaign targets 767,360 children.

Fata director (health services) Dr Fawad Khan, chief of local Unicef polio unit Per Engbek and high-risk coordinator Dr Shamsher, and WHO Fata coordinator Dr Sarfraz Afridi and Fata/KP polio team leader Dr Abdalla Arbab were also present on the occasion.

Dr Durrani told reporters that despite a number of issues and challenges, polio campaigns were carried out regularly in Fata.

He said six immunisation drives had been carried out in 2013 in the entire tribal belt with the exception of North and South Waziristan agencies. The Fata social sector secretary said polio campaign couldn’t be conducted there due to ongoing fighting among militant groups in Tirah.

He, however, said a robust polio strategy had been made to reach out to every child in tribal areas. Dr Durrani said there was a complete ban imposed by Taliban on polio vaccination in North Waziristan Agency but in South Waziristan Agency, areas controlled by Mehsuds could be approached by vaccinators and even in Wazir areas, vaccination was carried out in army camps.

“We are trying to reach Wana (South Waziristan) for vaccination of children against polio,” he said. The Fata social sector secretary said polio campaign had not been carried out in FR, Peshawar since January this year, but vaccinators would visit every house there this time to administer polio vaccine to every child due to the support of local political agent and law-enforcement agencies. He said polio teams had been deployed on all transit points for children on the move, a major challenge for them.

“We have opened cross-border vaccination points in Angoor Ada, Ghulam Khan, Torkham, Bajaur and Mohmand areas,” he said.

Dr Durrani said 2,704 polio teams had been formed to reach out to targeted children in Fata and FRs.

Meanwhile, in Bajaur Agency, where polio campaign was launched in the day, 229,910 children under five are to be vaccinated in the next three days, according to a local health official. — Dawn Report