ISLAMABAD - The federal capital is polio free since 2008 but the current poor performance and constant influx of population from Peshawar and Rawalpindi has intensified the risk for the metropolis. 

A high-level meeting of Islamabad administration and Director Health Services of Capital Administration Authority (CDA) officials expressed grave concern on sector I-11 of Islamabad where no health facility is available to local population and large number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from FATA and other conflict areas reside there without basic needs.

Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar chaired the meeting of Islamabad administration officials including Chief Commissioner ICT, Director Health Services of Capital Administration Authority (CDA).

Secretary Health Imtiaz Inayat Elahi was also present at the meeting.

Discussing the administrative lapses and governance issues in Islamabad, the minister directed to initiate immediate mapping of Islamabad population to identify high-risk areas. To ensure maximum coverage, Tarar suggested inclusion of government staff in the polio teams so that to keep them accountable for their services.

She also asked to increase the coordination between ICT and CDA to make Islamabad a model city in terms of polio vaccination coverage. Grave concern was shared on sector I-11 of Islamabad where no health facility is available to local population and large number of IDPs from FATA and other conflict areas reside there without basic needs. This area was marked as sensitive for polio programme because accessibility issues dominate the vaccination coverage in the area.

Presenting the case of Islamabad, Dr. Altaf Bosan, National Technical Focal Person on Polio, apprised the meeting that the quality of polio campaigns in Islamabad is marked as unsatisfactory, therefore, health experts have decided to collect sewage samples of Islamabad high-risk area of I-11 for poliovirus environmental surveillance. 

It was urged in the meeting to established joint function polio control room by CDA and ICT to monitor the campaign and get the real time data. Islamabad is polio free since 2008 but the current poor performance and constant influx of population from Peshawar and Rawalpindi has intensified the risk for Islamabad, said World Health Organization (WHO) experts.  The meeting was briefed that CDA administration has established 5 permanent transit points for polio vaccination but ICT still has to establish the permanent polio transit points to vaccinate children on the move.

Discussing the vaccination of children on checkpoints, CDA and ICT administration flagged the issue of non-cooperation of motorway police with the polio teams.

The Chief Commissioner ICT also proposed to initiate a pilot cooperation plan with Islamabad Traffic Police to ensure compulsory immunization to all children crossing the checkpoints.

The meeting was also attended by officials of the Prime Minister's Polio Monitoring Cell, WHO and UNICEF.