Sindh, Balochistan to launch polio drives next week

Special immunization drive to focus on high-risk areas, parents who refuse

With over 10 cases confirmed in the country so far this year, the governments of Sindh and Balochistan plan to launch immunization drives next week to vaccinate some 4.5 million children in both provinces.

This was disclosed by health officials in both provinces on Friday following separate events.

High-risk union councils targeted

In Sindh, Chief Secretary Dr Sohail Rajput presided over a review meeting on the polio campaign at the Sindh Secretariat on Friday.

During the meeting, he said that children entering the province will be vaccinated after as many as 10 cases have been reported in the country so far this year.

“Though no case of poliovirus has been reported in Sindh for the past two years, we have to be more vigilant as [a significant chunk of the] population comes to Sindh from other provinces of the country, and also from these affected areas of South Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.

The chief secretary directed the Karachi Commissioner Iqbal Memon to persuade the refusing parents to allow their children to be vaccinated during the special campaign and also engage the community and civil society of such parents in this regard. Moreover, all deputy commissioners were directed to closely monitor the progress of immunization campaigns in their assigned areas.

Earlier Emergency Operations Center Provincial Coordinator Fayyaz Abbasi briefed on the special campaign. He said that the campaign will be launched in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions and other high-risk districts of Sindh from Monday, June 27.

He added they will be targeting some 3.3 million children living in the high-risk union councils. To vaccinate these children, more than 30,000 polio workers will take part in the campaign.

Apart from Karachi, Abbasi said that Larkana, Sukkur, and Shaheed Benazirabad will also launch a special polio campaign in selected high-risk union councils on June 29.

Giving an update on the last immunization campaign, Abbasi said that more than 385,000 children had been vaccinated against the polio virus at transit points into and out of the province. Of these, he said, some 9,010 children belonged to South Khyber Pakthunkhwa (KP).

The meeting was attended by Karachi Commissioner Memon, Abbasi, EOC Sindh Core team members, all deputy commissioners of Karachi and Hyderabad, representatives of UNICEF, WHO, and others.

Balochistan campaign

Balochistan Health Secretary Saleh Nasir kicked off a week-long special immunization drive in 18 districts of the province on Friday by administrating oral poliovirus vaccination in Quetta.

Nasir said that the drive will aim to vaccinate some 1.2 million children in the 18 districts, including Quetta.

He added that the drive in the Quetta block is expected to last for seven days while the drive in other districts will last for five days.

“The health department will make all possible efforts to eradicate the crippling disease,” Nasir said.

He added that they had tracked some 5,000 parents who had refused to vaccinate their children in the province and that they will be targeting these people to convince them otherwise.

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