Pakistan to launch anti-polio campaign from March 29

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Pakistan will launch a nationwide anti-polio campaign from Monday, March 29. 

The immunisation drive will last for five days.

More than 40 million children under the age of five will get the polio vaccine. Around 285,000 frontline workers will go door-to-door in all 156 districts across the country Pakistan to give polio drops.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan launched the campaign on March 26 in Islamabad.

“COVID-19 continues to challenge us, but we are committed to ensuring continuity of the essential public health services during these difficult times. It is an absolute must that all our eligible children stay protected against vaccine preventable diseases including polio,” said Dr Sultan.

“It’s every Pakistani’s national duty to ensure that your own children, as well as those around you, are administered polio vaccine without fail.”

With the of the public, community leaders, parents and frontline workers the programme has successfully and safely implemented six campaigns in 2020, said a statement from the Pakistan polio programme.

Frontline workers have been trained to adhere to COVID-19 SOPs.

“We have started witnessing the impact of our hard work over the last six months in terms of improved epidemiology,” said Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI).

“This is reflected by the declining polio cases and decreased detection of viruses in sewage samples. It is critical that we sustain our progress to achieve eradication.”

Pakistan has reported one polio case so far this year. The virus was detected in a child in Balochistan.

Here’s the breakdown of wild poliovirus cases in the provinces this year:

  • Punjab: 0
  • Sindh: 0
  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 0
  • Balochistan: 1
  • Gilgit-Baltistan: 0
  • Azad Jammu and Kashmir: 0
  • Islamabad: 0

There were 84 cases recorded last year. The breakdown was:

  • Punjab: 14
  • Sindh: 22
  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 22
  • Balochistan: 26
  • Gilgit-Baltistan: 0
  • Azad Jammu and Kashmir: 0
  • Islamabad: 0

Eighty-three vaccine-derived polio (cVDPV2) cases were also reported in 2020.

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