Polio Special Assistant to the Prime Minister in Health.
After more than 30 years of effort, Africa was finally declared free of the (wild) polio virus in August. With this milestone, only Afghanistan and Pakistan became the ultimate front in the fight against the wild polio virus. On the occasion of World Polio Day, it is important that we highlight this fact and the responsibility on our shoulders to fight for a polio-free future for all children in Pakistan and around the world. The ups and downs of Pakistan’s journey towards polio eradication are significant.
With successes from 2015 to 2018 under the umbrella of the National Emergency Operations Centers Network, success in elimination is evident. The number of polio cases has decreased and in 2017 we reported only eight cases of polio which is the lowest in the history of Pakistan. This victory was short-lived as 2019 proved to be a major blow. This year has seen a huge increase in vaccine rejection, especially on social media platforms, and along with the circulation of the aggressive virus, due to the spread of vaccine propaganda.
This development was intended to bring back some of Pakistan’s toughest efforts to protect its children from polio. We needed to rethink, rethink and modernize methods that had never happened before. The following months included a detailed analysis of forensic and available data, as well as an extensive review of operations, program structure and staff
This ultimately helped us to resume the fight against polio with new and living energy. The beginning of a system-based solution learned from the past focused on advances in basic immunization. Significant progress has been made in the development of a state-of-the-art vaccine warehouse equipped with a “cold chain system” that guarantees vaccine quality as well as a high temperature monitoring system. Leveraging technology, campaign performance and polio monitoring have been improved, such as integrated software for data collection, development and deployment of mobile applications for real-time data collection and data separation at the union council level.
High-risk areas have been the focus, and efforts have been made to develop comprehensive programming in these areas that address broad health needs and service delivery. Coordination with the Basic Vaccination (EI) program was prioritized to strengthen the routine vaccination system through door-to-door polio campaigns. New efforts are beginning to bear fruit. National vaccination campaigns in late 2019 and early 2020 have shown that better coverage of vaccinations and earlier reliance on and acceptance of polio vaccines in resistance communities is improving the situation. At the end of February 2020, the world and Pakistan became very busy responding to the epidemic of Cove 19.
This has, among other things, affected the delivery of basic public health interventions such as polio campaigns. To minimize the potential spread of COVID-19, all polio eradication plans have been suspended for four months. Pakistan’s polio eradication program was able to focus during this period and became one of the first responders to the national COVID-19. Through the program, the public health expertise and infrastructure built and built across the country has provided significant support to the country’s COVID-19 monitoring and response. In case of example, the same technique is used to handle polio cases has been used to controle Corona virus -19 cases and inform policy decisions to strengthen the COVID-19 response. And to guide government intervention such as target tracking / smart lockout around affected people.
In adding , polio resources like 1166 helpline answered the question and provided information for public of country about corona virus. Due to the successful integrated and sustained national response to COVID-19, the situation began to improve over the summer, and the polio vaccination campaign began in earnest. Vaccines have been trained on COVID-19 prevention measures, and COVID-19 between vaccinators and the community. Strict laws have been enacted to reduce the chances of infection.
From July to September 2020, three campaigns were launched to vaccinate 722,500 children in July, 33.6 million in August and 39.1 million in September. Prior to COVID-19, the program critically reviewed itself and all available data to improve its performance, which ultimately led to greater confidence and demand for the polio vaccine while increasing vaccine coverage. Happened The journey to eradicate polio faces serious challenges. In some areas, immunization teams continue to abduct children during the election campaign for a variety of reasons, including families who have been denied vaccinations.
The program lacks confidence in vaccinations, especially among the poor and young. In addition, many carers do not understand the dangers of refusing vaccines for their children, as the success of eradication efforts in reducing cases is misunderstood and the polio virus is mistakenly considered a low risk. Goes Efforts to eradicate it have been hampered by the lack of basic immunization services, inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and excessive publicity for nutrition. Although these factors contribute to the natural environment that helps the virus to circulate, the risk of epidemic disease and wave 2 continues and could affect the program’s potential reach in the coming months.
To address these challenges, we will continue to implement a comprehensive vaccination program until 2021 and prioritize maximum vaccination coverage for children, especially in areas at risk of polio. If anything became clear in the fight against COVID-19, it was the value and impact of the data-driven, science-based response to the state-level engagement and mission at the national level. Therefore, some new and destructive ideas will need to be implemented. To this end, the program’s focus and response will be accelerated and community-based data on the presence of viruses in cases and environmental models will be responded to more timely.
This response will need to be answered as soon as possible without waiting for the next scheduled campaign. Some innovation and detail will be addressed in some high-risk areas. In addition, we will continue to implement and improve changes in 2019, such as providing broader health services as needed, Further efforts to strengthen immunization practices and build confidence in polio vaccination communities that continue to refuse vaccines. We will coordinate with Afghanistan in campaigns and operations to combat the spread of the polio virus through shared epidemics.
While this is still a place we need to tackle, it is important to know how far we have come and what Pakistan has already done to protect our children from polio, and that Has rescued more than a million children since 1994. For more than 26 years, More than 2.5 million brave polio vaccine practitioners of the program have carried out personal missions to ensure that no child is left behind, no matter what they face. It is a testament to the extent to which Pakistan has progressed in this journey and is a reflection of our collective commitment to tackling the challenges facing our society. CoVID-19 fighting the epidemic shows this solution better than anything else. We will continue to use this commitment to build a polio-free Pakistan.