Islamabad: The challenges in Quetta block will be overcome through all possible means to make Balochistan polio-free during the current low transmission season ending May this year.

This assurance came from Saifullah Chattha, Chief Secretary Balochistan, who called on the Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Ayesha Raza Farooq here on Thursday.

The meeting, which was called in the context of recent positive environmental samples from Quetta and the 20th case of 2016 from Killa Abdullah, reviewed in detail, the polio situation in Balochistan in general and the Quetta block (Quetta, Pishin and Killa Abdullah) in particular.

With continued decline in cases, the proportion of positive environmental samples, and genetic diversity of the circulating virus, Pakistan is closer than ever to interrupting polio virus, stated Ayesha. She however, conveyed her concern on the persistent positive environmental samples from Quetta and the most recent polio case detected from Killa Abdullah a day before. “With the progress in core reservoirs of Karachi and Khyber-Peshawar, the existing gaps in Quetta block need to be immediately filled to achieve the goal,” she said.

Saifullah Chattha shared details of the actions underway to mitigate the current risks in Quetta block as well as the rest of the province. “In accordance with the national vision, polio eradication remains the top most priority of the Balochistan government and no stone will be left unturned to interrupt the crippling virus through high quality campaigns,” he affirmed.

The meeting reviewed epidemiological investigation report of the most recent case, a four-month old child who had received only two doses of polio vaccine due to misconceptions and none in routine immunization. Ayesha advised the programme to use the case as example to educate communities about possible consequences of vaccine refusal. Reviewing programme data for campaigns as well as surveillance, immediate strengthening of routine immunization emerged as an immediate priority both in Quetta as well as the rest of Balochistan.

The Chief Secretary of Balochistan shared that he will convene a special meeting on January 15 to ensure foolproof preparedness for the January nationwide campaign. Moreover, te monitoring will be further strengthened to ensure no child is left unvaccinated, he stated.

Pakistan reported 20 cases in 2016 against 54 in 2015 and 306 in 2014. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal of zero polio is yet to be achieved. With considerable improvements elsewhere, the performance in Quetta block during campaigns during January till May 2017 could define the final success.

The nationwide campaign in Pakistan starts on January 16; however, the same in Quetta block will start from January 23. To plug the immunity gaps in areas with residual risk, combined OPV/IPV campaigns are planned in February and March 2017.

Source: The News


About Author

Leave A Reply