Govt. should aim at comprehensive immunization, vaccination against infectious, communicable diseases including polio

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Govt. should aim at comprehensive immunization,
vaccination against infectious, communicable
diseases including polio
 

PIMA Experts Group issues Guidelines
on polio vaccination

ISLAMABAD: It is the incompetence and inefficiency of the federal as well as provincial health departments that we have so far failed to control polio and Pakistan is one of the three countries in the world where polio cases are still being found. Lack of proper planning, lack of adequate monitoring and accountability at every level coupled with the unwilling workers involved with the EPI programmes has resulted in the situation in which Pakistan finds itself today. In addition it was our so called American Friends who also played a vital role in failing the polio immunization campaign when they ran a factious polio campaign in connection with the get Osama operation wherein Dr. Shakil Afridi played an important role. People in the Khyber PK in general and tribal areas in particular were already against polio immunization and this American game plan added fuel to the fire and the number of families refusing polio immunization has increased while polio workers are also reluctant to perform their duties due to lack of security cover. In fact many Lady Health Workers and EPI staffers involved in polio vaccinaiton have been targeted not only in tribal areas but also in Karachi resulting in their death.
The issuance of Polio certificate for every one including women, children as well as adult men travelling abroad after administering them polio drops is not going to solve the problem. The authorities should plan an educational campaign to remove the misgivings about polio drops created by people with vested interests and try to convince the public at large that it was in their own interest to save their children from permanent disabilities in life later. Government functionaries seems to have woke up to the ground realities and now effective polio campaign has been launched throughout the country providing polio drops administration facilities at all the public healthcare facilities, Airports and other public places.
According to another report the expert’s panel of Pakistan Islamic Medical Associaton (PIMA) also discussed this issue at length in one of its meetings held at Karachi on May 24th to clear the confusion surrounding the current restriction on Pakistani travelers of mandatory polio vaccination. The meeting was attended by Dr. Naseem Salahuddin, Prof Ejaz A Vohra, Dr Shahid Mustufa, Prof Sohail Akhtar current president PIMA, Dr Saqib Ansari and Dr Ahmer Hamid. Dr. Naseem Salahuddin briefed the audience about the history of polio vaccine, its serotypes and its different vaccinations.
Prof. Ejaz Vohra stressed on the need to vaccinate all children in Pakistan against polio to make it a safe country, a status achieved by many time larger countries like India and China. He expressed concerns on news of travelers getting fake certificates of polio vaccination whereas it is a safe and cheap protective measure.
Dr. Shahid Mustufa termed the recent travel restrictions regarding polio vaccination a grave step for Pakistan. He stressed on urgent measures to get it lifted, the only possible way being to reduce the number of new polio cases to zero by effective vaccination.
Experts also pointed out to loopholes in the national vaccination program, the EPI, which has also contributed to emerging of new polio cases. They stressed on the following:

• Government should facilitate the administration of polio vaccine to all travelers, not only by its availability at the airports but also at major govt. and private hospitals.
• The certification process should be cost effective and free of hassle.
• The sick, immune compromised persons and pregnant women among the travelers should be given exemption certificate. In case they have to be vaccinated, the injectable vaccine, IPV, should be made available free of cost for them.
• The public should be reassured that the oral (and injectable) polio vaccine is safe; they should get themselves vaccinated and certified, well in advance of anticipated travel. There is no need to recertify for twelve months following a single dose.
• Media should highlight these issues for the satisfaction of the society.
• Existing polio vaccination should be intensified especially to the deprived parts of the country, in order to make this country a polio safe country.

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