KARACHI: Mandatory vaccination of children at the schools are the best opportunity to immunize large number of eligible children against polio, with little risk for refusals, at one place and within available resources.
This was recommended by officials and doctors engaged in the recently concluded National Immunization Day (NID) campaign conducted at the district Central of Karachi, home to an estimated number of 3,50,000 children, under 5 years of age.
The NIDs held from January 23 to January 27, preceded by another special exercise focussed on schools and madressah going children,”School/Madressah Coverage Campaign” held in the district from January 19-22, was cited to be catalyst in improving the OPV coverage.
According to data compiled by the Town Health Officer – Karachi Central 16459 school and madressah going children were administered OPV at schools located in North Karachi, Liaquatabad, Gulberg and North Nazimabad towns of the district.
Deputy Commissioner, Karachi Central, Dr. Saif ur Rehman referring to rationale behind extensive School coverage activity said this significantly addressed the issue of refusals faced by teams engaged in house to house visits, under pretext of their being in schools or madresshas.
There are also cases reflecting public reservation about OPV itself or its administration by vaccinators, even mistrust on government services, repeated campaigning and so-forth.
To address the issue the district administration had approached the schools and madressah administration, individually as well as through their respective organizations.
During the preparation phase not only the town health offers but also education officers had approached the private and public schools to ensure their cooperation followed by issuance of letters by DC- Central to Chairman Private Schools Association to ensure awareness of parents and vaccination compliance.
“Administrators of these schools had also signed the receiving sheet so that legal actions could be taken against non-compliant educational centres,” said Dr. Rehman.
To combat refusal on part of schools and madressahs, all the resources ranging from district administration, police to partner agencies and Police were engaged, he said is reply to a question.
Thirty six percent (36%) more schools were covered under the latest exercise compared to similar attempts made in September 2014’s NID and 97% of all schools were covered in January 2015 exercise in the district central.
Role of human resource associated with education sector in improving Public Health in particular context of children can not beignored as they hold key role in educating the communities in general.
This, the officials said was because the teachers are respected and their words possess worth, hence can play their role in alleviating the myth associated with Polio Vaccine.