Kausar stresses importance of polio eradication Meetings decides to involve women in campaign

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PESHAWAR: A high level meeting for annual review of Polio Eradication Initiatives in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, chaired by the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Barrister Masood Kausar here at Governor’s House on Friday, unanimously declared that all segments of society and people from different walks of life particularly the female folk would be involved in the efforts for eradication of polio from FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The meeting decided that 95 % coverage would be ensured during 2012 with particular focus on areas of refusal and inaccessibility.
The meeting stressed the need for mass awareness and motivation through an effective media campaign and made it binding on the administration right from the gross root level to take the issue more seriously and vigorously.

The meeting was attended by Dr. Azra Afzal, Convener Polio Supervision, Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio and Mrs. Asma Alamgir, President National Committee on Polio besides the FATA Parliamentarians Munir Orakzai, Maulana Noorul Haq Qadri, Maulana Abdul Malik, Akhunzada Chatan and Maulana Saleh Shah, Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastagir, Additional Chief Secretary FATA Fazal Karim Khattak, all the commissioners, DCOs, Political Agents, officials of Health departments of both the province and FATA.

Representatives of UNICEF, WHO, Rotary Club and other organisations were also present in the meeting. Secretary Health Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Secretary Administration FATA in their separate presentations updated the meeting on the implementation of NEAP during 2011.

Governor Masood Kausar in his remarks stressed the need for creating awareness among the masses to sensitize them on the need for polio eradication. “Polio eradication is not only a big national challenge but a tragedy also because after consistent efforts we are still able to save our children from this crippling disease”, he remarked.

He said that the whole nation should take the responsibility of making the efforts successful. The Governor noted with concern that our country is one of the four countries at the global scene where Polio had become a big challenge and where the efforts for its eradication were still inconclusive. He however noted that as compared to previous years, some headway had been witnessed during 2011 but still more efforts were needed to achieve the real objectives.

Dr. Azra Afzal, Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali and Mrs. Asma Alamgir were of the view that accessibility to the inaccessible children should be focused and urged that the polio vaccination teams must have a female worker so that the women folk and housewives could be easily and purposefully approached and motivated.

They said that the teams should be constituted in a way that the female worker is accompanied by a male relative worker where needed. They stressed the need for attentively addressing the areas of refusals, where the parents could be persuaded to make them realize the need for giving polio drops to their kids.

Earlier Secretary Health Khyber Pakhtunkhwa gave a presentation on implementation of NEAP 2011 to the participants in which he highlighted the strategy of the provincial govt. to address the issue more vigorously.

He said that highest political leadership in the province was personally supervising the polio eradication campaigns. The Task Force for polio eradication in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA met 6 times within the time lines as per NEAP whereas 9 provincial review meetings were also held at regular intervals. Similarly a provincial monitoring cell is also functioning at CM’s Secretariat. The officials involved in the polio campaigns are accountable for their performance and action has been taken against 15 district level health officers on the basis of their poor performance.

He informed the meeting that 21 polio cases were reported during 2011 as against 24 reported during 2010. Torghar, Buner, Bannu and Tank are the new districts where polio cases have surfaced during 2011. Polio cases were reported from Charsadda, Swat and Hangu in 2010 but no case was reported from these districts in 2011.

In FATA, the meeting was told that 55 cases were reported during 2011 as against 74 reported in 2010. The highest number of cases were reported from Khyber Agency(21) and from North Waziristan Agency (14) with apparent reason being the law and order situation. Under the accountability process 7 Agency surgeons were transferred and salary of 48 EPI personnel deducted besides a deputy Director of EPI was replaced with new one for his poor performance.

The participants including the FATA parliamentarians made certain suggestions which was positively responded and the Governor assured that their suggestions would be given due weightage and accommodated in future’s strategy.

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