LAKKI MARWAT – There are certain issues and obstacles the Health Department and other stakeholders are facing in their efforts to eradicate polio from the district. It was disclosed at a presentation in district polio control room at the District Headquarters Complex Tajazai on Friday.

The presentation was attended among others by Bannu divisional commissioner Syed Ameerud Din, Lakki Marwat deputy commissioner Nisar Ahmad, DHO Dr Abdul Ghaffar Wazir, Deputy Director EPI Dr Janbaz Afridi, Polio Eradication Technical Focal Person Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah, Polio Eradication Officer Dr Adnan Akbar Khan, representatives of World Health Organisation, Unicef and other concerned officials.

Health experts and administration’s officials thoroughly discussed and highlighted polio eradication related issues with the aim to seek help and support from provincial level concerned officials to address them.

At the presentation it was disclosed that health facilities in several union councils lacked medical officers and EPI technicians. Though PPHI (People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative) provided a significant number of doctors to the basic health units but nine out of thirty UCs lacked qualified union council medical officers.

Nar Abdu Samand and Mash Masti Khani union councils have no health facility at all. Three other union councils including Shahabkhel, Kakakhel and Kherukhel have civil dispensaries without medical officers.

The participants were informed that seven union councils also lacked services of EPI technicians hampering the process of perusing missed children during anti polio drives. It was also informed that Lakki Marwat district with an area of 3200 square kilometers has only 11 members of district polio monitoring team less than the required number of 14 plus one for Afghan refugees.

Local officials also urged the need for improving direct disbursement mechanism to ensure payments to vaccinators on time.

They also highlighted operational issues and said that missed children were the major challenge in achieving the goal of immunization of all kids under the age of five years.

Provincial deputy director of expanded program on immunisation Dr Janbaz Afridi said on the occasion that commitment and dedication by lady health workers could help improve the quality of polio eradication campaigns and overcome refusal cases.

He said that operational issues could be tackled at local level in a better way, calling upon the local authorities concerned to work as a team to fill the gaps and overcome other problems for achieving desired results in drives against polio.

A WHO official said that categoristion of refusal cases and removing weaknesses in social mobilization regarding misconceptions about repeated campaigns could help to make anti polio drives a success. “People especially parents will not question repeated campaigns if lady health workers communicate a right message to them on time”, he maintained.

He told that a team of two national consultants would be sent to the district to identify exact reasons of refusal cases and provide technical assistance at local level.

Bannu Commissioner Ameerud Din said that to overcome issues would have a positive impact on polio eradication campaigns in future.

He underlined the need for launching concerted efforts to remove obstacles and achieve the goal of eliminating polio with the support of all stakeholders.