Pakistan launches nationwide anti-polio vaccination drive; targets 21.3million under five children
Peshawar, Nov 12 : Pakistan on Monday launched a massive nationwide anti-polio vaccination drive, including 1.5 lakh personnel, against the crippling disease which authorities said will cover 21.3 million children under five years of age.
Pakistan is one of the three countries in the world, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, that suffers from endemic polio. Polio virus can cause paralysis or death.
The three-day campaign will begin in 88 out of the 94 planned districts, The Express Tribune reported.
The drive has been delayed till November 19 for six districts of Balochistan (Zhob, Killa Saifullah, Dukki, Loralai, Musakhel & Barkhan) due to by-elections.
The programme will target a total of 21.3 million children, including under the age of five. 6.88 million in 12 districts of Punjab, 7 million in 36 districts of Sindh, 5.5 million in 25 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 1.5 million in 20 districts of Balochistan and 0.33 million children in Islamabad.
The campaign will involve a total of 150,000 personnel striving to achieve the set targets across Pakistan, including 16,847 area incharges, 4,004 medical officers, 110,449 mobile, 5,305 fixed and 7,842 transit team members, the report said.
The National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has deployed 46 experts to facilitate preparedness and ground implementation of campaign activities by the local teams in priority areas.
Government support at every level and cooperation of communities and parents has been imperative in Pakistan’s recent successes actualising a case decline from 306 in 2014 to 8 so far in 2018.
The last two polio cases were reported last month which increased the number of polio cases in the country to six this year, local media reported.
A country must have no cases for three consecutive years in order to be considered to have eradicated polio by the World Health Organisation.
Polio workers have faced problems during vaccination drives in many parts of the country, including Karachi where in the past militants have attacked female health workers.