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> FATA is the key to achieve the goal of polio eradication in Pakistan: FATA MPs urged to play a role
   
  • Polio has had a 71% increase in Pakistan in 2 years
  • 3 lakh or 25% of the children in FATA are inaccessible for polio immunization
  • Parliamentarian has an important role to play in awareness campaign and to help create accessibility
 
Immunization Awareness
February 24, 2011
Islamabad

   

Islamabad, February 24: In a PILDAT briefing session on Critical Need to Improve Immunization in FATA, experts shared alarming figures of polio increase in FATA with FATA MPs urging them to provide guidance, support and oversight to the immunization campaign in FATA.

 
 

Mr. Munir Khan Orakzai MNA and Parliamentary leader FATA in the National Assembly chaired the session while he was joined by Senator Saleh Shah Quraishi, Engineer Shaukat Ullah, Federal Minister for SAFRON, Dr. Azhar Abid Raza, Health Specialist UNICEF, and Dr. Altaf Bosan, National Progamme Manager-Expanded Programme of Immunization.

 
 

Additionally Mr. Bilal Rehman, MNA, Mr. Kamran Khan, MNA, Mr. Abdul Maalik Wazir, MNA, Senator Hafiz Rasheed Ahmed and Ms. Samina Mushtaq Pagganwala, MNA, and member Parliamentary Caucus to Promote Immunization in Pakistan, were part of the briefing, as well as key journalists from FATA, health policy professionals and others.

 
 

In the last 2 years, polio has had a 71% increase in Pakistan with 84 cases of polio in 2009 to 144 and rising in 2010-2011. Afghanistan, India and even Kenya, the alarming cases earlier, have seen improvements in polio reduction in this period. Of the 144 cases of polio in Pakistan in 2010, 74 occurred in FATA alone.

 
 

Mr. Munir Khan Orakzai said that the situation in FATA is symptomatic of lack of governmentís interest in FATA. It is largely the Health administrationís inability to manage the spread of virus in FATA through immunization. He believed greater awareness campaigns need to be run in FATA using Pashto radio. Ulema need to be involved to give brief statements on radio attesting immunization while health administration should consider giving monetary or food-related incentives to parents for immunizing their children in FATA through coordinating with related agencies.

 
 

Engineer Shaukat Ullah said that the major hurdle in FATA is inaccessibility where FATA MPs can help point to people/areas where support can be coordinated for immunization. He suggested that even though FCR is a black law, while it is in place, it should be used to make it mandatory for parents to vaccinate their children in FATA. He said that the Ministry of SAFRON is always ready to provide any support in promoting immunization in FATA as and when needed.

 
 

Mr. Azhar Abid Raza, Health Specialist UNICEF, said that the target to reach 10 million children in 65 high risk districts was set in 45%4 and 26 districts achieved elimination status in that year. However polio has persisted and today 75% of polio cases in Pakistan are identified only in KPK and FATA. 32 children recently affected from polio never had a single drop of polio vaccine.

 
 

Dr. Altaf Bosan, National Progamme Manager-Expanded Programme of Immunization, said that around 50% children in FATA are inaccessible which is a big cause of concern. He said that accessibility, lake of awareness and low performance of immunization teams are a hurdle in this regard. He requested parliamentarians to play their role in creating awareness among masses and monitoring the performance of administration.

 
 

Earlier Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Join Director PILDAT, gave presentation on the critical need to improve immunization in FATA. She gave figures on the alarming situation of polio in FATA. She said that PILDAT effort is to highlight the issue and create awareness in this regard. She stressed upon Parliamentarians and media to create awareness in the masses.