Pakistan has made phenomenal achievements in polio eradication due to the hard work and commitment of Sehat Muhafiz
Deputy Commissioner Swat has said that media has played an important role in polio eradication by raising public awareness about the disease and importance of vaccination to prevent child deaths and disabilities. “We have the only challenge to convince a handful of parents for cooperation with the govt who are influenced of the negative propaganda of certain anti-state elements and refused to vaccine their infants that also endangered all the new born children against this chronic disease”, he added. He said that Pakistan has made phenomenal achievements in polio eradication due to the hard work and commitment of Sehat Muhafiz under the guidance and ownership of the government with the lowest case count in the history of the country.
This he said while addressing the inaugural session of 2-day media sensitization workshop for journalists conducted by Emergency Operations Center Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on polio eradication initiative (PEI) here Friday at a local hotel in Saidu Sharif. DC Swat said that media is an important pillar of the state that shapes public opinion and urged it to remove misconceptions related to polio vaccination and generate demand in the community for polio and other essential immunization.
Director EPI KP Dr Akram Shah, Technical Focal Person BMGF Dr Imtiaz, Team Leader UNICEF Dr Johar, Provincial Polio Eradication Officer WHO, Dr Illaudin, District Health Officer Swat Dr Subhani, Communication for Development Officer UNICEF Ejaz Ur Rehman and Head of Paediatric Dept of Saidu Teaching Hospitals, Dr Israrul Haq were present on the occasion.
Director Expanded Programme on Immunization Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Akram Shah said that efforts for polio eradication was at its peak with the lowest case count since the launch of door to door polio vaccination campaign in 1994 in the country and urged media to help the government in giving last push to the crippling disease by creating public demand for polio vaccination. He said that media can play the role of bridge between government and public by removing remaining hurdles in polio eradication initiative in the country and can educate and motivate people for polio and other essential immunization services provided by the government free of cost for their children. Provincial PEO, WHO Dr Illaudin in his presentation explained in detail Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and IPV vaccination and how it builds gut and serum (blood) immunity and the need for repeated vaccination. He explained types of polio viruses, composition of vaccines, environmental sampling, cold chain saying that polio was an eradication programme and not elimination or control programme which is why so much focus was on this programme. Team Lead Unicef, Dr Johar oriented journalists on global and national polio updates with focus on provincial and southern parts of the province. He said that polio eradication initiative (PEI) has made a significant progress in the province with zero cases this year so far while one case last year and hoped that soon the disease will be stamped out from the last region of the world where wild polio virus was still in circulation.
Technical Focal Person for PEI Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah welcomed journalists and shed light on border objectives of the media workshop saying that media was the ear and eyes of the society and plays a pivotal role in shaping public opinion. He said that the dream of polio free Pakistan will not be possible without the support of media. “We have shifted from engaging media to partnership with media which means that media persons were equally responsible for creating public awareness and demand for polio eradication”, he added.
Mr Ejaz Ur Rehman, Communication Development Officer UNICEF informed journalists on media role in community mobilization and sensitization, crises communication and media focal points at the district level.