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PR No.164 EXTRA EFFORTS IMPERATIVE TO KEEP ISLAMABAD POLIO FREE, SENATOR AYESHA RAZA FAROOQ Islamabad: January 19, 2017

The capital is our pride and no stone should be left unturned to ensure that its stays Polio Free. The Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq stated this while speaking to the Area Incharge and Polio Polio team members during her surprise monitoring visits in Islamabad slums today. She was accompanied by Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, National Coordinator and Dr. Hassan Orooj,.

Earlier in the morning, the overall progress of the January nationwide campaign was reviewed at the National EOC. Of the targeted 37.3 million children 31.8 million children have been vaccinated in first 3 campaign days as the campaign had to be delayed to 23rd January in 19 out of 30 districts in Balochistan, Khyber Agency, and selected snow bound Union Councils of few districts in Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and FATA. The campaign was also stopped for one day in Larkana, Kambar, Rawalpindi, Islamabad because of rain and has been extended for 1-2 days on request of the respective district Polio Control Rooms.

Appreciating work of all provincial and district teams on overcoming weather challenges, Senator Ayesha urged reinvigorated efforts during final push against the crippling virus. With continued decline in cases, proportion of positive environmental samples and genetic diversity of the circulating virus, weare closer to interruption of Polio virus than ever, she stated. The meeting further deliberated on activities underway to respond to the positive environmental samples from Quetta block. With the progress in core reservoirs of Karachi and Khyber-Peshawar, the current challenges in Quetta block need to be urgently addressed to achieve our cherished goal, Ayesha reiterated.

In Islamabad, of the 301,286 targeted children, a total of 187,539 children (62%) were reported vaccinated during two days of the rain affected campaign. Today being the third day, campaign activities in pockets of the capital were monitored by the Prime Minister’s Focal Person herself. She interacted with the programme staff in the field and had critical look at their micro plans, route maps and records of covered and missed children. Whereas the overall campaign quality was satisfactory, knocking at the doors, Senator Ayesha stressed that no child should be missed. These children are going to decide our success or failure in coming months, she stated in her motivational dialogue with the Polio teams working in the area. She further urged the health department to focus on selection and training of appropriate Area Incharges and team members to reach each child during every campaign. The observed good routine immunization coverage in the monitored area was simultaneously appreciated by her as well.

Dr. Rana Muhamad Safdar, National Coordinator shared that though the last case from Islamabad was reported in September 2008, Polio virus was subsequently detected from its sewerage samples in August 2015 depicting risk of importation from elsewhere. Despite good overall immunity, the capital remains programme’s high priority due to frequent movement of high risk populations from areas where virus is still present, he shared. 

Pakistan reported 20 cases in 2016 against 54 in 2015 and 306 in 2014. Nevertheless, consistent push is imperative to achieve the ultimate national goal of Zero Polio.High quality campaigns from now till May 2017 are considered critical for the country to effectively plug the residual immunity gaps and achieve interruption. Combined OPV/IPV campaigns in areas with highest risk areasare planned in February and March 2017 to make it happen.

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