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Dynamics of Polio Eradication in Pakistan

The World Immunization Week - a global public health campaign was held during the last week of April, to raise awareness and increase rates of immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases around the world. Behavioral Sciences’ team, multidisciplinary department at National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS) conducted a session titled ‘Dynamics of Polio Eradication in Pakistan’ on 7th May 2018 at Professional Development Centre (PDC).

The session started with the opening remarks of Director Research, Prof. Dr. Aisha Mohyuddin who emphasized upon the significance and need of conducting research on issues like polio immunization and its eradication. Mr. Danish Nadeem, Research Nurse Manager shared his experience of working with the polio vaccination teams and highlighted vaccination schedules in the context of public health.

A team comprising of Ms. Taskeen Mansoor, Ms. Anum Farooq and Mr. Anayat Ullah conducted focused group discussions with the diverse group of NUMS’ University Management Trainees (UMTs). The team presented their research titled ‘Knowledge of Polio and perceptions regarding Polio eradication initiatives’ and discussed the findings on polio team recruitment, data handling, security concerns, cultural and religious beliefs and the role of influential people, i.e. religious and community leaders, women, politicians and heads of household.

Dr. Rehma Gilani, a public health specialist from NUMS highlighted scientific concepts related to polio vaccination and addressed different myths about polio. A role-play was enacted for the audience, which presented as to how polio teams visit homes during door-to-door campaigns and document data.

The guest speaker for the session, Brig (Retd) Bashir Ahmed Malik, Pakistan Army’s Technical Focal Person, National Emergency Operation Centre for Polio (NEOC) delivered his talk on ‘Pakistan Polio’s last comfort zone’. He shared the detailed statistics related to polio cases and operations of polio eradication programs at different levels.  He discussed how relevant stakeholders, taskforces and committees have been working on polio eradication program operations, monitoring and evaluation, quality assurance, security co-ordination and communication strategies. He shared his valuable experiences stressing upon the dire need to address the challenges like persistently missed children, chronic refusals, operational gaps, high risk mobile populations, cross border transmission and program fatigue.