KARACHI – The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for polio in Sindh will launch a province-wide polio campaign from January 11 to 17, as a part of the national immunisation days, to give oral polio drops to around nine million children of under 5-year across the province.
This will be the first campaign of 2021 in which anti-polio drops will be given to approximately nine million children under five years of age across the 29 districts of Sindh, said a spokesperson of the EOC Sindh on Sunday. Out of these nine million children, more than two million children from 6 to 59 months of age reside in Karachi will also be provided vitamin A drops to further boost immunity. The campaign will be conducted whilst following strict WHO recommended COVID prevention protocols which include the wearing of masks by workers, their temperatures being checked before deployment, not handling children directly, not entering houses, spending limited time with families, knocking on doors with pens, rulers or elbows rather than hands while reducing the length of meetings and attendance in meetings.
The EOC Sindh spokesperson said that as a result of the pandemic the gap in campaigns from March to July coupled with routine immunisation being affected left an immunity gap in children which we have been addressing through back-to-back monthly polio campaigns since August 2020. Thanks to these campaigns Sindh has not reported a single case of polio since July 2020 and if we continue with the same momentum we will soon see significant results, he said. While we deal with the pandemic, we must also deal with childhood immunisation to prevent childhood diseases, he said.
He said that the children can be saved from childhood diseases like polio through vaccination and we seek the media’s help to raise awareness regarding this. Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan and has so far reported a total of 84 polio cases in 2020 out of which 22 cases are from Sindh. The Pakistan Pediatric Association, Pakistan Medical Islamic Medical Association, medical experts across the world, as well as prominent scholars in Pakistan, and across the region endorse the oral polio vaccine as the safest and most effective for not only preventing polio but also eradicating it from the environment. Around 10 billion doses of this vaccine have been given to three billion children across the world in the last decade as a result of which 10 million polio cases have been avoided.