A three-day anti-polio campaign will start in Balochistan, FATA and FRs on Monday.
According to a health official, over 36 million children under the age of five years will be administered anti-polio drops during the campaign. Over 2.4 million children under five years of age will be immunised in Balochistan alone, he added.
The official said that there would be a special focus on Afghan refugees’ camps.
Pakistan has promised and claimed at all international forums that the polio virus would be eradicated from the country in 2016. A number of steps and strategies have been prepared to ensure that the country would not face an embarrassment at the international level next year.
An official working for the polio programme said that an improvement had been observed in the anti-polio drive.
“During 2014, as many as 306 cases of polio were reported in the country but in 2015 the number dropped to 54. In the fifth month of 2016, only 10 cases have been reported. This shows that the total number of polio cases will further decrease in the current year,” added the official requesting anonymity.
“We have been trying our best to completely eradicate the virus in the current year,” he said.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries which have been exporting the polio virus to each other because a large number of people daily cross the border.
“It has been decided to hold the polio campaign in both the countries at the same time. But the decision has created a shortage of security personnel in Pakistan because unlike in the past the anti-polio campaign cannot be held in phases now. According to the standard operating procedure (SOP), security has to be provided to each polio team during the campaigns,” said the official.
The official further said the KP health secretary had written a letter to the ministry of national health services (NHS), stating that 87 platoons of security officials were required for the security of the polio teams in the province.
“We are also expecting that the government of Balochistan would also ask for security officials because during a meeting of the national task force on polio eradication held in 2014 with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the chair, it was decided that the provinces can seek human resource from the federal government and even the services of the army can be utilised for the security of the polio teams,” he added.
Polio high risk areas, including Khyber Agency (Jamrud& Bara), South Waziristan, North Waziristan Agency and FR Bannu (Baka Khail, Jani Khail, Hindi Khail and Sintanga), will be focused during the campaign.
At the conclusion of previous (April) anti polio campaign around 99 % of the target children were successfully vaccinated and 0.3% children were missed while only 32 refusals were recorded.