Keeping Punjab polio-free a big challenge

LAHORE: Health Secretary Dr Ejaz Munir has said that strengthening of routine immunisation is vital for polio eradication. He said that under the Punjab Health Road Map Programme, target of routine immunisation coverage is to enhance it up to 80% by 2015. He said that Punjab was a polio-free province during 2014 but that it was a big challenge for the provincial government to maintain this position as poliovirus was roaming around.According to a handout, the secretary expressed these views while addressing a polio orientation and planning workshop organised by the Rotary Club at a local hotel on Saturday. Dr Munir observed that vaccination of children among internally displaced persons (IDPs) was a very important issue and the Health Department had issued instructions to all of its executive district officers (EDOs) to ensure polio vaccination of such children in their respective districts.He said that national action plan for polio eradication was strictly implemented in Punjab and every month, the chief secretary himself presides over meetings of DCOs to review progress on the action plan. Dr Munir said that special arrangements had been made to administer polio vaccine to children at all transit points of the province during road and rail journeys and that cooperation of police and transport department and transporters had been obtained in this connection. He said that no case of refusal to polio vaccination had been reported from the province. He lauded the services and cooperation of the Rotary Club for eradication of polio from the country and said that the cooperation between the Health Department and Rotary Club would continue in future as well.Rotary Club Pakistan Chairperson Aziz Memon appreciated the efforts and measures taken by the Punjab government for polio eradication. He said that the commitment shown by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for making the province polio-free was a precedent for others. He reiterated that the Rotary Club would continue its efforts for making Pakistan a polio-free country. Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Ayesha Raza said that firm commitment was shown at the highest level for polio eradication and that the prime minister was himself monitoring anti-polio campaign. She further said that the president had also held a jirga of tribal elders for getting their cooperation for administering polio vaccine to children in FATA. She further said that all of the four provinces were making efforts for polio eradication but Punjab had made more effective arrangements for vaccination of children because of which no case had been reported from Punjab during 2014. She said that vaccination of children among IDPs was a big challenge for provincial health departments. She lauded the efforts and services of the Rotary Club in polio eradication. Earlier, a review of polio situation in all of the four provinces was presented in the workshop and participants discussed future strategy/planning for launching/running anti-polio campaigns. 

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