LAHORE : In response to WHO’s travel restrictions on Pakistan to control Polio spread, the provincial government of Punjab has devised it’s own safety measures to protect the province from Polio. Punjab has made it mandatory for everyone to show an authentic certification of polio vaccination before entering Punjab from Sindh or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. This year, not a single case of Polio was reported from Punjab, however, wild polio virus has been detected recently, from sewerage water in Lahore.
According to some media reports; Polio vaccination teams have been deployed by the Punjab Government at 41 points of entry and exit, from KPK and Sindh, where Polio drops will now be administered to every child entering Punjab. If a person refuses to take polio drops, he will be refused entry into Punjab, unless an authentic polio vaccination certificate is provided.
The Health Department officials of Punjab have stated that; “Either they have to take polio drops or present a polio vaccination certificate before entering Punjab. Those who refuse to take polio drops and at the same time failed to present a polio vaccination certificate will not be allowed to enter Punjab”.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO); the areas of Karachi, Peshawar and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are three main reservoirs of polio virus from where it can be transported to other areas of the country. The government has failed to carry out a single polio vaccination campaign in FATA since 2012 Thus, this region has become the main source of exportation of polio virus. WHO and KPK government has carried out an extensive campaign in Peshawar and other vulnerable districts, however, lack of effective polio eradication activity in FATA has rendered these exercises as futile.
According to some news reports; The situation is very similar in Baldia and Gadap Town in Karachi, where polio teams have little or even no access to administer polio drops. As polio cases continue to surface from Sindh, Khyber PK and FATA, there is a risk of this crippling virus spreading to Punjab, also.
The WHO has imposed travel restrictions on Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon, and has warned that the crippling disease has re-emerged as a public health emergency. Health Department in Punjab will conduct strict monitoring, while also establishing special centres at the DHQ Hospital level and all teaching Hospitals, to ensure vaccination of intending travelers. Medical Superintendents of teaching and DHQ hospitals are being authorized to issue polio vaccination cards for the convenience of the citizens. Especially, 10 sensitive districts of Punjab will come under focus.
All provinces need to make coordinated efforts to eradicate Polio. “Special measures will include establishing mandatory vaccination counters on all airports, border crossings and seaports across the country to facilitate all travelers,” the officials said.