HEALTH MINISTER EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER CANCELLATION OF POLIO CAMPAIGN

January 14, 2015

 Islamabad 14th Jan, 2015: Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State for National Health Services Regulation & Coordination while chairing a high level meeting to review the last polio campaign and preparation of the upcoming polio round this month expressed concern over cancellation of the polio campaign in parts of Karachi for want of security. The minister was informed that 5 UCs in Karachi had to cancel the last polio campaign over security deployment issues. The high level meeting was attended by Ayesha Raza Farooq, Prime Minister Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Muhammed Ayub Sheikh Secretary National Health Services,Dr. Assad Hafeez, DG Health, heads of International Partner Agencies took stock of the quality of polio campaign during the December round. The minster told the participants that we need to focus on quality of campaigns rather than frequency and concentrate our efforts on the consistently non performing UCs. The criteria for quality campaign a bare minimum of 90% coverage. Any coverage less than this is not acceptable, the minister added saying that some UCs were conducting campaigns frequently but unable to reach the 90% mark. With regard to the Karachi situation it was agreed to discuss the proposal of holding special campaigns on weekly basis with stick security cordon and concentration of both polio teams and security personnel. To this end Secretary National Health Services was requested to hold urgent meeting with CCPO Karachi to finalize arrangements with regard to security deployment. It was also decided to constitute a special committee for Karachi on polio eradication. The meeting expressed appreciation for improvement in performance of Kila Abdullah in Balochistan and FR Bannu for achieving high level of IPV coverage.  The meeting also noted the concern that all six Lot Quality Assessments Survey(LQAS) carried out in Peshawar had failed indicating poor quality.  The meeting called for ensuring coherence between operational, security & communication plans for polio campaigns. It was decided that emergency operation centers at the federal and provincial level will perform at optimal level.