|No polio case reported in Khyber Agency in two years|
LANDI KOTAL: No new polio case has been reported in Khyber Agency during the last two years owing to effective anti-polio vaccination strategy, positive response from local community and improvement in law and order situation.
According to official data, the last polio case surfaced in Landi Kotal in November 2015 that was 11th such case in Khyber Agency during that year. Officials said that even 11 was considered to be a small number in comparison to 76 polio cases recorded in Khyber Agency, mostly in Bara tehsil, in 2014.
“The experience in 2014 was both shocking and alarming as the attention of the entire world community dealing with eradication of polio was focused on Khyber Agency and marathon meetings were held to devise effective strategies to control the crippling disease in Khyber in particular and in Fata in general,” they said.
Dr Wazir Akbar, head of Khyber control room for polio eradication, told Dawn that involvement of local health workers in a continuous vaccination campaign and security arrangements helped in controlling spread of polio virus and reaching out to maximum number of children under the age of five in the tribal area.
“The establishment of a control room helped in providing a centre for better management of the monthly anti-polio vaccination campaigns and monitoring of all the coordinated activities of field workers and supervisors, who would share their reports almost on daily basis,” he said.
Dr Wazir said that local health workers played vital role in locating ‘chronic’ missed children and overcoming the menace of refusal by some ‘irritant’ parents.
“The number of both missed children and refusal cases has now dropped down to zero,” he said.
Officials said that health authorities employed 1,057 local health workers including 195 women and 224 supervisors on permanent basis with fixed monthly salaries as they conducted door-to-door campaign throughout the month to leave no space for refusal by parents or missing of children.
They said that community-based vaccination programme (CBVP) of Unicef, started in North and South Waziristan, FR Bannu and Khyber Agency, was bearing desired results to eradicate polio virus from those high risk areas in Fata.
They said that they had not reached the Rajgal area as it was not de-notified by the security forces.
The transit health teams comprising 11 health workers are stationed permanently at the Torkham border to vaccinate Afghan children upon their entry to Pakistan in three shifts while other such teams are deployed at Ghakhi checkpost in Landi Kotal and Bhagiyarri checkpost in Jamrud to administer anti-polio vaccine to children travelling with their families on Landi Kotal-Loe Shalman Road and main Peshawar-Torkham Highway respectively.
The successes against polio also had a price in the shape of sacrifices rendered by Khasadar and Levies forces and health workers during vaccination campaigns in some of the most dangerous and sensitive localities in Khyber Agency.
Nearly 20 Khasadar and Levies personnel and health workers lost their lives in targeted attacks against polio teams by suspect militants in different parts of Khyber Agency during the last few years.