Punjab achieves anti-polio targets

Muhammad Suleman

Lahore—Punjab has achieved coverage targets set for polio campaign of May 2016. The data was shared in the post-campaign review meeting of the polio eradication partners in the provincial Emergency Operation Center here Monday.
The meeting was chaired by EOC Coordinator Dr Munir Ahmed and attended by representatives of WHO, UNICEF and Gates Foundation. The meeting was apprised that out of a target of 18,341,281 as many as 17.97m children were vaccinated during the stipulated three days of campaign held between 23-25 May and the remaining children were vacci-nated during the 14 days follow up.
Dr. Munir Ahmed, who also heads Punjab’s Ex-panded Program on Immunization, said that in order to achieve best results, all micro-plans will be re-viewed between till August and the data of children not available during the last campaign will be at-tached with the micro plan of every union council for the coming campaigns.
He said a total of 43,848 teams were constituted for the campaign that included 36,848 mobile, 4,340 fixed sites and 2,314 transit teams. The EOC Coordinator also directed the staff to ensure preparatory activities in line with National Emergency Plan for Polio Eradication.
The National Immunization Days are held country-wide and Punjab organized the campaign in 3550 union councils of the province. Polio is a national emergency and the provincial Emergency Operation Center serves as a control room to coordinate with districts and streamline micro planning, vaccine supply and mapping of population at greater risk to polio virus.
Pakistan is one of the two remaining countries where poliovirus is still endemic. Additionally, Punjab has shown good results vis-a-vis sewerage surveillance of drains for detection of poliovirus in environment. Only a total of 12 out of 144 (8%) environmental samples tested positive for Wild Polio Virus in 2015 in comparison to 35 out of 152 (23%) in 2014.
However, the intermit-tent detection of virus from environmental samples in low risk areas of the province from four sampling sites of Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad indicates that pockets of under immunized children belonging to migratory population traveling to Punjab either due to conflicts, in search of livelihood, is allowing the virus to survive and spread. Although the percentage of still missed children is not very high in Punjab but the number is quite significant.

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