PESHAWAR – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Chief Secretary, Ghulam Dastagir Akhtar has said that the provincial government is taking the issue of polio eradication as a challenge and it is making serious efforts in collaboration with all the stakeholders to address the issue with a comprehensive strategy in place.

He said it is of grave concern for the government that despite well coordinated efforts to eradicate polio in the province and FATA, few cases have been reported in Khyber Agency. He said however it should not discourage them and they should continue their efforts in this regard. “We should make efforts in a much better way to address the menace.”

He expressed these views while chairing a high level special meeting regarding polio eradication at his office in Peshawar on Monday. The meeting reviewed in detail the situation after polio cases have been reported in Bara, Khyber Agency and took a number of decisions regarding the future course of action to address the issue.

Secretary Health Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Secretary Administration, FATA, Secretary Information Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Commissioner Peshawar division, DCO Peshawar, DCO Nowshera, Director General Health Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, concerned authorities of FATA, Secretariat and political administration, Khyber Agency, representatives of UNICEF and WHO attended the meeting.

The authorities of Health Department gave a detailed briefing on the agenda of the meeting.

The meeting was told that four polio cases have recently been reported in Bara, Khyber Agency and the only reason for polio cases in the area is the military operation against militancy, as polio teams have not been able to cover the area properly.

The meeting was informed that military operation has been restarted in Bara and as a result a huge number of local population is migrating to the settled areas of Peshawar thus posing threats to the urban population.

Special transit points have been established on various roads linking Peshawar to Bara to administer polio drops to these internally displaced persons (IDPs), while at Jalozai Camp, Nowshera arrangement to ensure polio drops to the IDPs has been made on permanent basis, the meeting was told.

The meeting was also informed that polio teams have been sent to Bara areas in full security cover to ensure polio drops to the local children. Personnel of Khasadar and Levies have also been inducted in the said polio teams after imparting proper training to them. Concerned authorities informed the meeting that besides Jalozai Camps; 48 union councils have been identified where the IDPs are living, and a two days polio campaign has been chalked out for these out-camp IDPs.

The DCO Peshawar told the meeting that 17 special points have been set up at various places where 24 polio teams in all have been deployed to the migrating people.

On the request of the DCO, the Chief Secretary issued directives to CCPO Peshawar to provide security cover to the said polio teams. On the suggestions of UNICEF and WHO representatives, the Chief Secretary directed the concerned authorities to develop a proper mechanism for monitoring of the polio teams and maintaining proper documentation of the IDPs.

The Chief Secretary lauded the efforts of UNICEF and WHO in eradicating polio from the province and assured all out cooperation and support from the provincial government.

He also directed the high-ups of the Health Department to work on war footings to ensure the availability of required quality of polio and other vaccines.

The Chief Secretary also directed the Secretary Information to take necessary steps to give awareness to the public regarding polio through print and electronic media.