IT’S NOT THE TIME TO RELAX BUT TO ERADICATE POLIO ONCE FOR ALL, SAYS SENATOR AYESHA

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ISLAMABAD (PRESS RELEASE)

Pakistani nation has shown great resolve and determination to bring us to the brink of polio eradication but our message is simple that job is not finished yet and by ensuring high quality national and sub-national campaigns in April and May might be our chance to give the virus a final push out of Pakistan, said Prime Minister Focal person for Polio eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq during her surprise visit to suburbs of Islamabad on Tuesday. The Senator paid a surprise visit to various localities in Islamabad including Tarlai and temporary settlements of Nomads. She was accompanied by National Coordinator for Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Dr Rana Safdar and other senior officers of the health ministry, ICT and CDA. Noting that the polio drive in the capital is critical, the Senator said that Prime Minister of Pakistan has constituted a special task force to specifically monitor the campaign in twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and report back to him on daily basis to ensure maximum coverage during this and all the upcoming campaigns. Though there has been no case reported from the twin cities for over two years but virus has been found in the environmental samples of both Islamabad and Rawalpindi drainage thus raising the concerns amongst officials and communities. The Senator said that she would be personally monitoring the campaign in the city during every round. She also took notice of gaps in the provision of routine immunization services against nine deadly diseases of children in the area and issued directions to ensure that every child is immunized without fail. Talking to the parents and communities during her field visit, Senator urged all segments of the society and especially the parents to facilitate the front line workers (Sehat Muhafiz) in this noble cause. Several community elders in the visited areas welcome the Senator and thanked the government of Pakistan for bring Pakistan this close to complete eradication of polio. “Our Sehat Muhafiz have brought us so close to polio eradication that we cannot afford to relax hence me and leadership of EOC have come out to support our valiant teams for getting rid of this disease completely” said Prime Minister’s Focal Person (PMFP), Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq while talking to the community elders and parents during her door to door visit. The second last polio campaign of the current low transmission season has commenced from today, 9th April across all provinces & areas of the country except Bajour agency of FATA starting later. A total of 37.71 million under five children will be vaccinated including 19.38 million in Punjab, 8.85 million in Sindh, 5.73 million in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2.46 million in Balochistan, 1 million in FATA, 0.7 million in AJK, 0.238 million in GB and 0.33 million children in Islamabad. It is a 3 days campaign plus 1 day catchup elsewhere and 5 days plus 2 days catch up in core reservoir areas. During this campaign, Vitamin-A supplement will also be administered to around 35 million children aged between 6-59 months along with OPV aimed at boosting immunity against diseases including Measles. A total of 260,000 personnel will strive to achieve set targets across Pakistan including 24,661 Area Incharges, 7,977 UC Medical Officers, 190,573 Mobile, 10,235 Fixed and 12,148 Transit team members. The current Polio epidemiology in the country is best ever observed with case decline from 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015 to 20 in 2016 and 8 in 2017. In 2018, only one polio case has so far been reported from district Dukki, Balochistan. The Senator also inspected the children playing in the streets to see whether their fingers had been marked after they were vaccinated. Senator talked to polio teams and checked their tally sheets. She also advised polio teams to pay attention to children who may be visiting relatives since there is a possibility that such children are missed in the drive. She further directed that each house, including makeshift shanties, nomads and travelling families with under five children should be administered polio drops and properly marked with permanent markers to ensure each household is covered.