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Nationwide campaign begins to end crippling poliovirus causing paralysis

<p>The countrywide drive comes at the backdrop of three polio cases reported in Khyber Pakthunkhwa’s North Waziristan district this year, paralyzing the country’s efforts of making it polio-free. File</p>

The countrywide drive comes at the backdrop of three polio cases reported in Khyber Pakthunkhwa’s North Waziristan district this year, paralyzing the country’s efforts of making it polio-free. File

Karachi/Lahore/Peshawar/Quetta: In order to end the crippling poliovirus and save the country’s future from lifelong paralysis, the government Monday (today) started a five-day nationwide vaccination programme with an aim to reach as many as 43.3 million children under the age of five across the 156 districts of the country.

“Around 340,000 polio frontline workers will provide polio vaccines at the doorsteps across the country. During the planned campaign, a supplementary dose of Vitamin A drops will also be administered to children aged 6 to 59 months,” read the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme statement.

The countrywide drive comes at the backdrop of three polio cases reported in Khyber Pakthunkhwa’s North Waziristan district this year, paralyzing the country’s efforts of making it polio-free. For polio certification, all countries in the WHO region need to have no case of wild polio for three consecutive years in presence of high-quality Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance systems – a fundamental mechanism to detect polio cases.

Pakistan completed one year without detection of a polio case on January 27, shows national data. The only case in 2021 was reported from Balochistan while all other federating and administrative units remained polio-free.

National immunization campaign

  • Gilgit Baltistan – 270,000
  • Sindh – 9.9 million
  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – 7.2 million
  • Balochistan – 2.6 million
  • Punjab – 21.9 million
  • Azad Jammu and Kashmir – 710,000
  • Islamabad – 400,000

He was part of the delegation of the global polio programme that visited Pakistan from May 16-18 to support the country in addressing the remaining challenges to containing polio transmission.

Karachi

As many as 2.4 million children – out of around 10 million in Sindh – will be administered polio drops during the polio campaign.

The Sindh government has stressed the need for administering vaccine drops to children in private schools and at homes where parents refuse to allow it.

Around 75,000 vaccinators and supervisors are taking part in the drive, officials said, adding that they have completed the mapping of high-risk union councils in Karachi. Moreover, the polio teams would take intermittent breaks in the afternoon in view of the heatwave.

The government has also directed the Sindh police to provide security to the teams.

Lahore

More than 160,000 teams comprising 70,000 teams are involved in the province-wide campaign in which 21.9 million children would be given vaccine.

“We have to be vigilant because of the polio cases, adding that the polio vaccine is safe and secure and has no side effects,” Punjab Polio Programme in-charge Syeda Ramallah Ali said in a video statement. She urged the parents to ensure that the children are administered polio drops in this third nationwide campaign.

Ramallah said the campaign would continue in major districts for seven days and for five days in small districts. Teams have been set up at transit points to ensure maximum vaccination.

Peshawar

More than 4,000 security forces have been deployed in the province to provide security to polio teams, as part of the government’s efforts to ensure foolproof security arrangements.

“Important tasks have been assigned to ababeel squad, city patrolling, and police mobile units and security has further been tightened on entry and exit points,” SSP Operations Haroon Rashid said, adding that the overall security of the city is on high alert.

As many as 2,500 teams have been formed in the seven-day polio campaign.

Quetta

More than 10,868 teams – including 8,818 mobile, 947 at fixed sites, and 597 at transit points – are working on the campaign, aimed at vaccinating more than 2.6 million children.

The campaign will continue for seven days in the Quetta block whereas it will be run for five days in other areas of the province, according to the Polio Emergency Operation Centre.

The provincial government has also sought the help of religious scholars in order to make the campaign successful. The last polio case reported in Balochistan was on January 27, 2021.