Role of media termed crucial in fighting polio
QUETTA: The role of media is crucial in eradicating polio from Balochistan and the rest of the country, said Dr Saifur Rehman, coordinator Emergency Operation Center (EOC) for polio eradication.
Talking to senior journalists of Quetta at a media roundtable on Tuesday, he said that after the eradication of smallpox, polio is being cornered in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the world is looking at both the countries to defeat the virus and declare complete eradication of the disease.
Rahimullah Yusufzai, who moderated the discussion, urged senior media colleagues to play their role in developing a positive national narrative for eliminating polio.
Presenting the facts and progress of ongoing polio campaigns in Balochistan, Dr Rehman said that Balochistan is constantly recording almost 95 per cent vaccination among children under 5 years, adding that the menace of polio would be stamped out from the province in the coming months.
Moderator Rahim Ullah Yousafzai said: “The country is facing hurdles in tackling both polio and terrorism. Polio is considered as big a menace as terrorism,” adding that the stakeholders would have to devise an effective strategy to tackle polio on the same footing as terrorism.
He said that Afghan tribes, groups and nationalities did not evolve a consensus on different issues except polio eradication. “The war groups in Afghanistan stop fighting whenever anti-polio drive starts in their respective areas,” he said, adding that even anti-polio campaigns were effectively under way in areas controlled by the Taliban militants.
Another senior journalist, Saleem Shahid said that electronic media can play an even more positive role by giving more airtime to social and health issues related to polio. He urged the international donor agencies and other organisations working on the eradication of polio virus to approach All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Pakistan Broadcasting Association (PBA), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and other media outlets to sensitise the media owners for raising awareness on the dangers of polio virus.
Dr Rehman said that the polio virus usually reached Balochistan from Karachi and Kandahar (Afghanistan). “Recently, polio virus detected in Quetta reached from Gaddap town of Karachi,” he said, adding that luckily, Balochistan had achieved 72 per cent reduction in polio cases.
He said that this year, eight polio cases were reported across the world, including seven in Pakistan and one in Afghanistan.