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Wednesday, May 22, 2024  
13 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

Health minister announces ‘three-pronged strategy’ to stem polio spread

Vows to make hubs well-resourced by providing additional resources and health experts
Respect polio workers slogan of caretaker health minister - Aaj News

Caretaker Health Minister Nadeem Jan has announced a three-pronged strategy to stem the spread of poliovirus in the country as Pakistan aims to become polio-free country, Radio Pakistan reported.

“Localised operational hubs are being established in Bannu as three out of four polio cases have surfaced over there,” he said at a ceremony in Islamabad.

His statement comes after wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) was found in five sewage samples taken from four districts of the country. On Wednesday, the Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health notified that the virus was isolated from two samples collected from Karachi on September 26 and one sample each collected from Rawalpindi and Chaman on October 2 and Peshawar on October 4.

The interim health minister vowed to make such hubs well-resourced by providing additional resources and health experts.

He was of the view that three cases – out of the total four – were from a single union council in KP’s Bannu, describing it as a “silver lining” in dealing with the outbreak in the area.

Jan added that the origin of the virus was not important, rather it was necessary to realise that it was dangerous for children as it can paralyse them.

While explaining eh strategy, he said that the government has made a localised operational hub in Bannu and made it well-resourced and relocated the top brains of the programme to the district so that they can bring improvement and weed out the problem.

Secondly, Jan said that the government was running a campaign in which not just polio drops were being administered, but routine immunisation was also administered. “This will not just increase our outreach but also create a will and people start respecting our workers and accept it [drops].”

The third strategy was to “catch up” as the immuinsation teams were going door-to-door to administer polio drops and ensure no child was missed. “We have revamped our communication strategy and it will misconceptions.”

He went on to add that polio drops were being administered to children less than five years of age countrywide with supplementary doses of vital vitamins. He highlighted the effectiveness of an integrated approach to combat the circulation of poliovirus.

The government has devised a communication strategy with the major focus to “remove all the misconceptions” in the minds of the general public related to the inoculation of polio drops, Jan added.

He paid rich tribute to the polio workers, who are offering voluntary services by putting their lives at risk. “Their services will be used further in nutrition, family planning and health hygiene after the eradication of poliovirus in the country.”

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