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Polio vaccination age to be doubled in 16 Rawalpindi UCs

By Ikram Junaidi 2019-02-04
ISLAMABAD: After success in the federal capital, the National Polio Programme has principally decided to double the age of vaccination from five to 10 years in 16 union councils (UC)in Rawalpindi.

All the UCs are located near the Pirwadhai Bus Standincluding Safdarabad and Muslim Colony where a large number of residents frequently travel to the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

After the continued detection of the polio virus in the sewerage water in Islamabad, in December last year, it was decided to double the age limit for the administration of polio vaccination in I-9, I-10, I-11, I-12, H-11, H-12, H-13, Naseerabad, Chishtiabad and Shams Colony in the federal capital.

The environmental samples tested negative in the federal capital for December and January after the step was taken.

A sample of sewage water from an area is the basic parameter for seeing if polio campaigns are successful. A polio case can be reported in any city because of the frequent movement of people between cities which means a polio campaign in one area cannot achieve the desired results.

The presence of polio virus in sewage water also shows that the immunity level of the children in the area has decreased and they are at risk of the disease.

Prime Minister`s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar bin Atta told Dawn that because the strategy was affective in the federal capital, it has been decided to replicate it in some UCs of Rawalpindi as the environmentalsamples there are continuously testing positive.

`In March, we will do the same in Peshawar and then the age limit will be increased in the Bajaur district of KP. We have also arranged additional supply of the polio vaccine as the number of children to be vaccinated will increase after the age limit is doubled,` he said.

Mr Atta said the polio program was initiated to eradicate the virus rather than for controlling it.

`We will ensure that the virus will be eradicated from the country. The major hurdle is that people still refuse to vaccinate their children. But we will ensure they are convinced to vaccinate their children. I will personally lead the polio team during the next campaign,` he said.

He said the last Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) report had strictly criticised the PML-N`s performance and said the government and polio program were only focusing on a number of polio cases.

`However, the report stressed that the major issue which needs to be focused on is the detection of the disease in environmental samples rather than decreasing the number of polio cases. The report suggested Pakistan should make efforts to eradicate the virus from sewage water,` he said.

IMB works on behalf of international donor agencies and issues reports regarding the performance of countries every six months.

In Nov 2012, IMB ad recommended the imposition of travelling restrictions on Pakistan which were brought into af fect on May 5, 2014.

Due to these restrictions, everyone travelling from Pakistan has to be vaccinated beforehand.