Islamabad’s vulnerable to poliovirus growth

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Second polio vaccination drive within two months puzzles residents

Zubair Qureshi

Launch of an emergency 3-day polio vaccination campaign has surprised as well as upset the residents of the federal capital as recently most of them have got their kids administered. An official of the Ministry of the National Health Services told Pakistan Observer that the drive was launched after a number of areas have been detected with polio virus which ‘has unnerved the local administration as well as the ministry officials.”
The samples have been collected in a number of sectors, especially the slum areas and it has been decided to launch a campaign on ‘war footing,” said the officials. It may be noted that polio was last detected in Islamabad in 2015 in Islamabad’s I-11 sector.
“A polio virus can be reported in any area because of frequent movement of people from one city to another, however, if the virus is found in the sewage it means the anti-polio campaign in that locality has failed,” the official said. The presence of the polio virus in the sewage also shows that the immunity level of the children of a particular area has decreased and they are at the risk of the crippling disease, he said.
“In December 2013, the ministry had decided that a firewall would be established at the border of Punjab and KP to stop the transportation of poliovirus into the province and Islamabad. Every person coming to Islamabad was required to be vaccinated against the virus but so far no one has taken steps for implementing the proposal,” he said.
The recent polio campaign due to positive environmental case response in Islamabad was launched on Monday and will continue until May 30, 2017, the official further said. For this purpose a total of 308,551 children of less than 5 years of age will be given polio vaccine through 949 house-to-house teams. Among these polio teams 128 are fixed teams while 73 are transit teams making a total of 1,150.
The teams would be accompanied by 16 Assistant Commissioners/Magistrates to monitor the activity. It has been reported that a strict polio vaccination campaign will be undertaken in the twin cities and certain areas of high risk have already been identified after results tested positive for polio through collected environmental samples.
Poliovirus also affects children who have been struck with malnutrition such as in the Thar, Umerkot, and Sanghar regions because malnutrition is one of the main reasons for low immunity against this virus. The environmental sample that tested positive for polio was found in a sample of sewerage from the area. These results are a basic requirement to see whether or not polio vaccination campaigns were successful.
An official of the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC), said that because Karachi and Quetta have reported polioviruses this year, the vaccination campaigns will be held during the low transmission period in May. A resident of G-9/4 while talking to Pakistan Observer said the sudden start of polio vaccination campaign shows either the last month’s campaign proved ineffective or the teams did not fulfill the target and left the campaign in the mid. However, she hoped this time the teams would ensure that no child under the age of is left out.

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