Pakistan News

Parents of over 46,000 children refuse polio vaccine

Parents of over 46,000 children refuse polio vaccine

ISLAMABAD: Although the year’s third nationwide polio campaign concluded with 97 per cent reported coverage, parents of 46,967 children refused to get their children vaccinated. About 130,632 children were reported with zero routine doses during the campaign.

Severe rain and snowfall also affected the campaign in some areas where new dates for vaccinating children will be announced soon.

In its meeting on Oct 5-6 last year in Britain, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for polio had declared Peshawar valley and Fata as “conveyer belt” of polio transmission, noting that this was possibly the last reservoir of wild poliovirus left in the world.

The IMB works on behalf of international donor agencies and issues reports regarding performance of countries after every six months. In Nov 2012, it recommended travel restrictions on Pakistan, which were finally imposed on May 5, 2014.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio cases are being continuously repor­ted.

According to data released by the National Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), the campaign, which started on March 14, targeted approximately 36.8 million children under the age of five across the country.

According EOC sources, during the three-day campaign and an additional catch-up day, a total of 35.19m (97pc) children were vaccinated. Out of them, 3.57m children were recorded as un-vaccinated during the first visit, but 2.61m (73.15pc) of them were covered after revisit on the catch-up day.

Of the 83,332 refusals, 44pc was covered after revisit and refusals reduced to 46,967 (0.13pc of the targeted children).

The campaign will be conducted on different dates in tehsil Debondi of Qila Abdullah, Swabi, five tribal UCs of D.G. Khan and Shawal and Spinwam areas of North Waziristan. Because of heavy snowfall, the campaign could not be conducted in 10 UCs of Chitral, two UCs of Skardu and one UC of Astore. The campaign was extended for one day to March 18 in the rain-affected areas of Mansehra, Lakki Marwat, Faisalabad, D.G. Khan, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Khanewal.

The National EOC monitored the campaign through federal field monitors and issued real time feedback to the provinces and areas.

A third party post-campaign assessment has started and results will be available in about a week.

National EOC coordinator Dr Rana Mohammad Safdar said in a statement that polio campaigns were of crucial significance because these would drive to the final finish line of polio eradication and, therefore, it was of dire importance to maintain the quality.

“Any missed child in the polio campaign is a potential threat to fail us in the efforts. So every missed child has to be vaccinated,” he said.

“National EOC has planned five nationwide polio campaigns up to May 2016 to arrest the poliovirus transmission across the country. National and Provincial EOCs are also preparing to conduct special Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) campaigns to boost the immunity level of the target population.

In Balochistan, along with the IPV administration, children will also be vaccinated against measles,” he said.

IPV is made of dead viruses and is given through injections.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2016

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