Nation-wide polio vaccination campaign kicks off
A nation-wide campaign to vaccinate children under the age of five against the poliovirus has begun Monday, with an aim to inoculate more than 40million children.
This campaign was initially planned for targeted areas identified as high risk for polio cases, but late expanded to the entire country after three cases of wild polio in a month.
Following the cases, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired an emergency meeting of the task force and ordered the authorities to mobilize all resources to eradicate the virus.
According to National Coordinator of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme Dr. Shahzad Baig, the campaign has been started simultaneously in Afghanistan and Pakistan, two of the three countries in the world where polio remains endemic.
More than 340,000 health workers will go door-to-door to inoculate the children, added Dr Baig.
He said that the government is taking emergency step to curb the virus, adding that children will be administered an additional doses of Vitamin A.
According to the province-wise breakdown shared by the Pakistan Polio Eradication Program, 21,9m children in Punjab, 9.9m in Sindh, 7.2m in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2.6m in Balochistan 0.27 in Gilgit Baltistan, 0.7m in Azad Kashmir and 0.40m in Islamabad will be given the vaccine.
At the start of the campaign, Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel urged clerics, teachers and every citizen to play their role in eradicating the virus.
These two drops can save someone from lifetime of disability, said Patel.
All three cases of the wild polio were reported from North Waziristan district of the KP.
These cases took the global number of polio cases in 2022 to five, with a case also confirmed in Malawi and another in Afghanistan, according to data from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
On April 22, the first case was reported in a a 15-month-old child. The second case, affecting a two-year-old girl, was reported April 29. The third case was reported May 16 in a one-year-old child.
Health Secretary Aamir Ashraf Khawaja said the six districts in southern KP have been identified by the polio program as the areas at high-risk areas.
In 2021, Pakistan reported only one wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) case as compared to 84 cases in 2020.