Health

Polio Vaccination Drive Launched Across Pakistan to Protect Children

Pakistan is determined to eradicate polio, a potentially fatal disease that mainly affects children under the age of five. To achieve this goal, the country has launched a nationwide anti-polio campaign that aims to vaccinate millions of children with oral polio drops.

The campaign, which commenced on Monday, will cover all provinces and regions of Pakistan, reaching out to children in urban and rural areas, as well as in hard-to-access and insecure locations. Dedicated teams of health workers and volunteers will go door-to-door, ensuring that every child receives the life-saving vaccine.

In the province of Punjab, the campaign targets a staggering 22 million children, the largest number in the country. The provincial health department will also conduct social mobilization activities, such as engaging with community leaders, religious scholars, media, and civil society, to raise awareness and address any misconceptions or hesitancy about the vaccine.

Meanwhile, in Sindh, the campaign aims to vaccinate over 10 million children, with a special focus on Karachi, the largest and most populous city in the country. Karachi recently reported the fifth polio case of the year, a 31-month-old girl who was diagnosed with the disease on November 11. The case highlighted the urgent need for continued vigilance and improved immunization coverage in the city, where environmental samples have also tested positive for the polio virus.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the campaign targets over 7.4 million children, with a particular emphasis on the southern districts of Bannu, Lakki Marwat, and Tank, where all the polio cases of the year have been reported. The campaign in the province faces several challenges, such as insecurity, displacement, and refusal by some parents to vaccinate their children.

In Balochistan, the campaign aims to vaccinate over 2.5 million children, with a special focus on Quetta, the provincial capital, where environmental samples have also tested positive for the polio virus. The campaign in the province faces difficulties, such as poor infrastructure, harsh weather, and scattered population.

These efforts are crucial in the collective mission to create a polio-free Pakistan, a mission that is supported by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a partnership of national governments, international organizations, civil society, and donors. The GPEI provides technical and financial assistance to the country, as well as monitors the quality and impact of the campaign.

Polio is a highly infectious disease that can cause paralysis or even death. There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented by vaccination. Pakistan is one of the only two countries in the world, along with Afghanistan, where polio remains endemic. The country has made significant progress in reducing the number of polio cases, from 306 in 2014 to 20 in 2020. However, the recent cases in Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa show that the virus still poses a threat to the health and well-being of the children. Therefore, it is imperative that every child is vaccinated during every campaign, until polio is completely eradicated from the country and the world.

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