Imran to open ‘Sehat Ka Ittehad’ campaign on Feb 8

Source: Published in Politics on Friday, January 30, 2015

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan will inaugurate the ‘Sehat Ka Ittehad’ (alliance for health) immunisation campaign in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa simultaneously on February 8.

The ceremony in this regard will take place in the Governor’s House, Peshawar, where Governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan and Chief Minister Pervez Khattak will also be present.

A total of 12 one-day rounds will be held during which 2.5 million children will be immunised against nine vaccine-preventable childhood ailments, including polio.

Health officials said that the PML-N and PTI had joined forces to eradicate polio.

Campaign to focus on three tribal agencies, 10 KP districts

Both the parties are poles apart as far as their role in the national politics is concerned, but the launching of SKI has gladdened the WHO, Unicef and other donor agencies, who have been insisting on unified efforts in the KP and Fata.

The KP governor and chief minister materialised the idea floated by the PTI chairman following detection of 179 and 69 polio cases in the Fata and KP, respectively, in 2014.

The campaign seeks to immunise children in Khyber, North and South Waziristan agencies and Frontier Region, Bannu, and 10 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including five central and as many southern districts.

Fata has been proven scientifically to be transmitting poliovirus to KP children due to which a joint front was desperately needed to eradicate the virus from the region.

The drive will be carried out on the pattern of ‘Sehat Ka Insaf’ programme conducted early last year by the PTI-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and it will be assisted by the Pakistan Army.

The campaign would target children in specific areas that were previously inaccessible due to security situation.

Officials told Dawn that following month-long efforts both the centre and provincial government agreed to launch joint campaigns not only to administer oral polio vaccine in door-to-door visits but also safeguard the children against other diseases by giving them vaccination at the fixed centres run by the Expanded Programme on Immunisation. Provincial Health Minister Sharam Khan Tarakai will supervise the campaign. Last week the apex committee of the National Action Plan approved the plan to safeguard children in the high-risk areas. About 300 health camps will be held in the selected districts and agencies, they said.

The officials said that the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments had set aside their political differences for the sake of child health, as children there risked diseases that could be prevented through vaccines provided free of cost.

They said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had directed the governor to make it sure that Fata’s children received the much-needed immunisation during the campaign.

They said that the World Health Organisation, which was earlier skeptical about the quality of polio immunisation campaigns in Fata and KP, had also appreciated the move and stressed that vaccination of children was the only way to get rid of poliomyelitis.

The WHO says that Fata and KP were transporting poliovirus to the countries long-declared polio-free and therefore the government has realised that there is no room for laxity.

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Written by Ashfaq Yusufzai

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