ISLAMABAD - Presence of wild poliovirus in sewage samples of Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gaddap and Gulshan-e-Iqbal towns in Karachi, Hyderabad and Quetta has alarmed the government.

Special directives have been issued by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination to all provincial concerned authorities to take immediate steps. A detailed letter under the signature of Secretary, National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, has been sent to all provincial Chief Secretaries and Secretary Social Sector FATA to address the concern regarding the performance of concerned authorities in Polio Eradication Program.

Environmental surveillance mechanism has been established with the technical assistance of World Health Organisation (WHO) at 23 sites in the mega cities of the country and isolated wild poliovirus-1 from 29 environmental samples this year has raised serious questions on the performance during the polio campaigns. During the last anti-polio campaign held in August 2013, the Lot Quality Assessment Survey (LQAS) indicates that five districts/agencies including Jacobabad in Sindh, Batagram, Charsada, Karak in KPK & Mohmand in FATA could not achieve the required results; which puts them at a very high risk. In a detailed letter sent to the provinces, all Provincial Chief Secretaries are requested to reactivate and hold Provincial Task Force meetings to review progress of previous campaigns and take appropriate measures to arrest the spread the poliovirus.

The provinces are further requested to direct the Provincial Control Room teams headed by Provincial EPI Managers to coordinate effectively with districts to implement activities as per the National Emergency Action Plan of Polio Eradication and provide relevant information timely to the Central Polio Control Room to monitor the progress of the programme more proficiently.  The ministry solicited the Chief Secretaries to direct the district  administrative  and  health management  teams to address  the  weaknesses  identified  in  the  past  during  the  previous  campaigns  and  take  measures to improve polio campaign quality in the future campaigns.