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Over 40m children to be vaccinated against polio in nationwide campaign

Islamabad : The PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan launched a five-day national polio immunisation drive here Friday. The campaign, which will start from March 29, seeks to vaccinate over 40 million children under the age of five in a bid to raise the immunity of children who remain at risk of the crippling disease.

“COVID-19 continues to challenge us, but we are committed to ensure continuity of 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. Our 280,000 valiant Sehat Muhafiz frontline workers will knock on every door to vaccinate all eligible children in every corner of Pakistan. 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,” said Dr. Faisal.

The polio programme implemented six campaigns in 2020. The country has reported only one polio case so far this year. “We have started witnessing the impact of our hard work over the last six months in terms of improved epidemiology. This is reflected by declining polio cases and decreased detection of viruses in sewage samples. It is critical that we sustain our progress to achieve eradication,” said Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI).

Immunisation is widely recognised as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. Yet, Pakistan has many unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children at serious risk of potentially fatal diseases. Polio campaigns are imperative to give quick immunity boost to children under the age of five. Alongside holding the back-to-back planned polio immunisation campaigns, the programme strives to enhance essential immunisation coverage across Pakistan.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free.

Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan. They are currently facing a challenging situation in polio eradication with the upsurge of the number of polio cases.

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