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Anti-polio drive: UN agency set to boost immunisation efficacy

The United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) is likely to support the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government in boosting the ratio of routine anti-polio immunisation campaigns.

Officials privy to the development said that the issue of low coverage during routine immunisation was being discussed, adding that since the UN children’s fund was already on the ground, the provincial government would seek its support in this regard.

Stressing the need for effective public awareness campaigns on the efficacy of immunisation, the officials said that the provincial government had already recruited fresh technicians for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI).

“A huge chunk of available resources is being spent on eradicating the polio virus but officials are now considering treating routine immunisation campaigns just like focused anti-polio campaigns,” a senior health official said.

Currently, the ratio for routine immunisation stands at 54 per cent, but the government is trying to enhance this ratio.

Meanwhile, pediatricians underscored the need for immunising children against the poliovirus and termed all rumours against it as baseless.

Eliminating the polio virus never appeared so near, Prof Dr Irshad Ahmed said while inaugurating an anti-polio campaign at the Khyber Teaching Hospital on Saturday.

As many as 365,040 children were administered polio drops at this facility last year. Nearly 10,000 adults were also administered polio doses for obtaining vaccination certificates for travelling abroad.

Moreover, a three-day anti-polio drive is to begin tomorrow in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the Frontier Regions where as many as 1,029,179 children below the age of five years would be vaccinated.

At least 4,125 teams, including 3,668 mobile, 326 fixed and 131 transit teams, will participate in the campaign.

Security forces will provide cover to teams administering polio drops in the tribal areas.

As many as 20 polio virus cases had so far been detected in 2016 with eight each from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh and two each from Balochistan and the tribal areas.

Farooq, Umer. Anti-polio drive: UN agency set to boost immunisation efficacy. The Express Tribune, January 15, 2017.

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