Health workers immunize children as fresh national anti-polio drive kicks off
Health departments across the country on Monday kicked off the third major polio immunization drive as religious scholars and parents were urged to play a significant role in eliminating the crippling disease from the country.
Launching the seven-day immunization drive in Islamabad, Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said that the government is committed to countering polio.
“Only small part of the country is prone to the disease including nine high risk area of Khyber Paktunkhwa (KP),” he said.
The third Sub-National Immunization Days (SNIDs) campaign will vaccinate 13.5 million children under five years of age in 36 districts of the country including nine of Punjab, eight of Sindh, six of Balochistan, Islamabad and nine high-risk areas of KP.
Some 100,000 trained ‘sehat muhafiz’ volunteer immunizers are participating in the drive.
In Sindh, the seven-day drive was launched by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.
Some 3.04 million children will be immunized across 255 union councils during the campaign in Sindh.
In Balochistan, Health Secre tary Akbad Harifal launched the five-day immunization drive that will see some 978,000 children vaccinated across six districts of the province as 4,160 vaccinators go door-to-door.
Harifal said that no case of polio has been reported in the province for the past two years.
“If we can remain free of polio for another year, we will be declared a polio-free province,” he said.
Drive in KP
While the drive kicked off in most parts of Pakistan on Monday, including in Sindh and Balochistan, the campaign in KP is expected to commence on December 5.
Emergency Operation Coordinator Dr Shehzad Baig said the polio virus still exists in the country and until all the children are vaccinated, no child is safe.
He voiced hope that we are quite close to the finish line, and must remain determined to get there as soon as possible.
“High-risk districts are our top priority, and we are keen to eliminate the poliovirus from the challenging areas while protecting the rest of the region as well,” Dr Baig said.
“I particularly urge all parents and caregivers to get their children vaccinated instead of hiding them or refusing to take the necessary drops during all vaccination drives. It is important to realize that the polio virus still exists in our surroundings, and no child is safe until all children are truly vaccinated,” he said.
Moreover, The National Emergency Operation Centre issued the “Sehat Tahhafuz” Helpline 1166 and 24/7 WhatsApp Helpline 0346-777-65-46 to assist the parents and caregivers in reporting missed children.