National News

Polio vaccination coverage improves significantly: survey

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MN Report

Islamabad: A third-party independent assessment of a recent anti-polio vaccination campaign showed 95.82 per cent coverage as against the National Emergency Action Plan’s (NEAP) target of 90pc.

It may be pointed out here that Pakistan has registered 51 polio cases during 2015 as against 306 cases recorded in 2014.

The NEAP, which has set the target to end poliovirus circulation by May 2016, was anticipating 90pc vaccination coverage. However, an independent assessment of the campaign carried out by a private firm, indicated it was over 90pc for the first time.

According to details, the coverage rate in Punjab was found 98.05pc, followed by Federally Administered Tribal Areas – Fata (97.28pc), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (97.19pc), Sindh (96.54pc), Balochistan (92.18pc) and Gilgit-Baltistan (90pc).
The three-day national campaign was held from Dec 14 to 16, 2015 in various parts of the country except Azad Jammu and Kashmir that was delayed due to some job concerns of health workers. According to officials, for the first time, all provinces and areas have achieved an independently assessed coverage of over 90pc. Besides, among 12 tier-I districts carrying the highest risk of poliovirus, all achieved over 90pc coverage except Killa Abdulla where it was 88pc.
Officials said that about 1pc of the targeted children who were not available at homes during campaign were now being followed up during the ongoing catch-up period of two weeks.
Overall refusal rate among targeted children during the campaign was 0.1pc.

However, the Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS), a random sampling methodology, assessment of intentionally skewed towards most problematic UCs has indicated an overall coverage of 79pc against NEAP’s target of 80pc. Officials maintained that out of 734 high risk union councils, the coverage was sub-optimal only in four – three in Killa Abdullah and one in Bannu – while the rest of union councils were close to the target.
Results of December NIDs are highly encouraging and programme seems on track to interrupt virus transmission through five high quality campaigns during January – May 2016, said Dr Rana Safdar, National Coordinator of Emergency Operation Centre.
With an 85pc reduction in recorded polio cases in 2015, the United Nations Children’s Fund has announced in November that Pakistan may be declared a ‘non-endemic country for polio virus’ by next year.  However, World Health Organisation official say the momentum needs to be maintained and has to go up to achieve the target.

January 1, 2016

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