LAHORE  - The government of Pakistan with technical support of Harvard University has initiated a Knowledge, Attitude and Practices study commonly known as KAP Study in districts designated as high risk for polio and routine immunization.

Sources in Prime Minister Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell said that the study would help in gathering data on existing knowledge, attitude and practices of parents in 20 districts that are high risk for polio and also underperform with regards to routine immunization.

This information would form part of the communication strategies to make them more effective and devise ways to ensure that parents have sufficient knowledge on preventable disease, have a positive attitude towards child health issues and promote preventing health seeking practices.

The current KAP study, sources said, will be scientifically rigorous than the previous as high standards of technical design and data collection process have been endorsed. They revealed that the first phase of the study would focus on three districts from Balochistan-Quetta, Killa Abdullah and Pishin, one district of Sindh- Karachi, five districts from Kbyber Pakhtunkhwa- Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Mardan and Lakki Marwat, and five tribal agencies-Kbyher, Bajour, Orakzai, Mohmmand and Kurram. No district of Punjab has been included in the first phase of the study which will be completed by end of January 2014. Sources further said special focus is laid on inclusion of people living in refugee camps in Kurram Agency and at Jalozai in Nowshwera.

The IDP camps at the two locations house thousands of displaced families from FATA and areas along the Pak-Afghan border. A special strategy to gather information from nomadic communities, who are often considered the prime source of virus transportation, has also been devised and such groups based in districts that underperform for routine immunization and polio will be focused in first phase.

The roll out of the study has already begun with the completion of the field staff training; sources claimed adding the training of field supervisors and interviewers has been completed in all districts that will be covered in the first phase while special consideration is given to the staff from local areas. The hiring of the local staff for the study would help address any misconceptions and would also enable teams to work smoothly as being from the same communities, they are aware of customs and practices.

The data regarding the knowledge, attitude and practices with regards to child health issues of parents of children under the age of five years would also be gathered for further analysis. The findings of the study would identify ways to strengthen routine and polio commoditization strategies. The development of a specific data collection process from nomadic communities is in its final stages.

Once completed, KAP study is expected to enhance the government ability to address the child health service seeking behaviors of parents according to the scientifically credible data gathered in the light of Pakistan’s ground realities.

Sources said the KAP study would eventually form part of the annual data collection to assess changes and help make informed decision on child health issues.

Dr Altaf Bosan, National Coordinator Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell while talking to the scribe said that the program was initiated to improve data collection from high risk polio areas. He, however, said that he can’t give any further information about the results of the study as it is in early stages.