Punjab becomes the first province to claim POLIO-FREE status after intense efforts

Although Pakistan remains one of three polio-endemic countries in the world, its anti-polio initiatives have proved to be a success, especially in Punjab.
Since 2009, a total of 961 cases were reported. An average of 120 cases are reported each year.

Although the Global funding on polio endemic has been cut in half over 30 years, the budget for polio was increased for Pakistan. Pakistan doubled its spending on polio irradiation from 1999 to 2003.

Of the overall population, Punjab is the biggest province with highest percentage of population at risk for low, medium and high risk for polio and has had major success in eliminating the disease.

UNCIEF Pakistan worked with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rotary International and WHO in order to support the Government for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

During 2012-2014, 77 immunization rounds were carried out each year. Due to polio initiatives implemented by the government, the number of cases reduced each year till 2012. Year 2013-2014 saw a drastic increase in polio outbreak where reported cases become significantly increased. The figures again went down in 2015 and 16.

The outbreak brought intensification of polio immunization efforts across the country.

According to UNICEF/WHO reports, other effective steps included training of health workers, campaigns on polio, TV ads, SMS awareness messages and counseling of community.

The UNICEF-supported National Child Health Council (media, professional associations and civil society organizations) leveraged media coverage to promote vaccine acceptance.

UNICEF Pakistan also established health camps with provincial and district authorities that provide a complete package of interventions (i.e. routine immunization, antenatal care, nutrition counselling, etc.), adding value to polio vaccination.

Sindh was getting double the amount allocated to Punjab in 2012, in contrast with population. In 2014, Sindh was still getting half of the funds while Punjab was getting only one third. Punjab has highest population followed by KP and Sindh.

The number of cases have been cut down to one fifth between year 2009 and 2016.

For Punjab zero cases were reported as compared to 17 in 2009. With the intensive efforts, Punjab has become the first province to get a POLIO-FREE province status in 2016.

About Aasia Niazi 6 Articles
Aasia Niazi is an ICT professional working with Development sector as IT and Knowledge Management expert. She has completed her education from Pakistan as well as holds a Masters degree from Sweden. Currently she is working with development sector as Data Manager, on a UNHCR funded project. Being a part time blogger and social media manager, she thinks this program will polish her skills to produce better data stories and blog posts.

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