The Federally Administered Tribal Areas have recorded only six polio cases in 2015

Publication Date : 17-03-2015

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas have recorded only six polio cases in 2015 against the 40 cases, recorded during the same period last year, owing to better security situation that ensured frequent vaccination in the militancy-stricken areas.

“The government launched third phase of Sehat Ka Insaf (Alliance for Health) programme, targeting 5.4 million children in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a three-day campaign on Monday.

The World Health Organization has claimed that frequent vaccination of displaced children from Waziristan have shown results and cases will further decline if we reach the target population,” WHO Fata polio chief Dr Sarfraz Khan Afridi told Dawn.

He said that vaccinators were repeatedly vaccinating 90 per cent children during the past seven months in North and South Waziristan under effective security measures. “Immunisation of displaced Waziristan children in Bannu and other places have improved polio situation,” he said.

The world health agency says that repeated immunisation indicates that the programme is going in right direction.

Tribal areas have recorded only six polio cases in the current year.

Displacement had proved a blessing in disguise for the unvaccinated children of Waziristan and Khyber Agency as they received anti-polio vaccine in Bannu, Peshawar and other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Sarfraz said.

He said that vaccination was smooth-sailing in Orakzai, Bajaur, Mohmand and Kurram agencies as no polio case had been reported in those tribal areas since 2013.

Children suffered in Khyber and Waziristan because vaccinators couldn’t undertake the campaign due to fear, he said.

“Now the situation has improved a lot and we have been able to reach 90 per cent of the children in the areas that were previously inaccessible,” Dr Sarfraz said.

He added that plan was in place for vaccination of an estimated 6,000 children, who would return to South Waziristan under the government’s repatriation programme.

Dr Sarfraz said that those children had already been vaccinated because there was urgent need to vaccinate them repeatedly to protect them against the virus, which circulated in their native areas.

He said that WHO in collaboration with the government was trying to ensure vaccination of all children below five years of age. “Lack of vaccination leads to polio cases and the only solution to eradicate the crippling childhood ailment is mass immunisation,” he said.

Fata along with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been declared hub of polio virus, which poses risk to children in the countries that had long declared polio-free.

The United Arab Emirate, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors are helping Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in eradication of polio.

Fata recorded 179 polio case and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 68 cases of the 306 countrywide cases in 2014 while they reported 65 and 11 cases respectively of the total 93 cases registered at national level in 2013.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa registered 27 and Fata 20 polio cases in the totally nationwide tally of 58 in 2012.

However, relevant authorities said that an estimated 36,000 children in Dossali, Razmak, Garyum and Ghulam Khan areas of North Waziristan would be administered anti-polio vaccine during the campaign.

Health workers will also immunise children in Khyber Agency, except at Bara where the drive has been delayed for a week

The Fata health directorate has deployed 3,078 workers to carry out door-to-door campaign in South Waziristan while four per cent children will get immunisation at Hujra-based vaccination points.

Children on Bannu-Miramshah Road are also exempted from immunisation as the areas remain under curfews.

Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC Mexico

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