UC chairpersons pledge to improve polio immunisation coverage

ISLAMABAD: Newly elected chairpersons of union councils from the federal capital have pledged to mobilise and motivate communities to ensure Islamabad polio free and immunization of every child during the upcoming polio campaigns.

A batch of these elected chairpersons of urban Union Councils gathered here at the National Emergency Operations Centre to get first hand briefing on the situation of Routine Immunization and Polio Eradication in the capitol. The briefing was organized with an aim to sensitize the local government representatives for their meaningful engagement in the polio eradication initiative and strengthening routine immunisation.

Mayor Islamabad, Sheikh Ansar Aziz through his special message ensured the support of Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation in improving the current state of affairs to progress routine immunisation and polio eradication initiative.

“I nominate all newly elected chairpersons of the Union Councils of Islamabad as focal persons for polio campaigns to take ownership of the cause,” expressed mayor in his message through his official. Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar from National Emergency Operations Centre briefed the participants on the mode of transmission of polio virus and repercussions of not being polio free.

Stressing on the importance of the immunization, Dr. Safdar Rana apprised the participants that about 30 million children still do not have access to basic immunization services and almost 3 million die each year from vaccine preventable diseases.

“Before launch of eradication efforts, polio used to infect 350,000 children globally every year”, said Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar in his presentation. He highlighted that reaching and vaccinating every child in each round is the only way to win this war against the virus and vaccinating child multiple times adds to his or her immunity and also protects children around.

Highlighting the issues specific to Islamabad, Dr Rana Safdar said that human resource particularly in Capital Development Authority (CDA) and high risk mobile populations spread all across the city while training and deployment of appropriate teams are the main causes of concern.

Moreover Dr. Safdar stressed on high quality supportive supervision and real time monitoring and need to update microplans with clear root maps. He urged the local government representatives to participate in UC polio eradication committees to critically review preparedness for each campaign and support in raising appropriate teams in each UC, assist polio teams in convincing refusals schools and families and encourage ‘Sehat Muhafiz’ and sensitise communities to respect them as national heroes.

“International public health community now agrees that vaccination is the top public health achievement of the 20thCentury”, said Dr Safdar while giving them a presentation on the significance of Routine Immunisation and Polio Eradication Initiative in the country.

Chairpersons of Union Councils during question answer session raised various points. Ms. Fauzia Arshad, (chairperson UC-28) highlighted that information about vaccine safety and efficacy should be made public through media.

Anjum Shahzad Tanoli (Chairperson UC 27) highlighted the need of local and trustworthy teams for polio campaigns. Similar questions and queries were answered during the briefing. The briefing session was attended by officials including Assistant Commissioner, ICT, DHO, ICT, Director Health, CDA, representatives from Federal Expanded Program on Immunization and officials from National Emergency Operations Centre and partner organisations.

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