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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 431, 28 November 2022

Government initiates another countrywide anti-polio campaign



Emphasises “collective action” to eradicate the virus from the country

Abigail Miriam Fernandez

On 28 November, the government launched an anti-polio campaign to vaccinate 13.5 million children under the age of five in 36 districts. Over 100,000 trained health workers will be engaged in the vaccination drive. The campaign will be launched across six districts in Balochistan, eight districts in Sindh, and nine districts in Punjab and Islamabad. Additionally, a campaign targeting 12 high-risk districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be launched on 5 December. Federal Minister for National Health Services Abdul Qadir Patel said “We are quite close to the finish line, and we are determined to get there as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, National Emergency Operation Centre Coordinator Dr Shahzad Baig said that the campaign will be a “collective action” to eradicate the virus from the country. He added, “We are keen to eliminate poliovirus from challenging areas while protecting the rest of the regions,” adding, “It is important to realise that poliovirus still exists in our surroundings, and no child is safe until all children are truly vaccinated.”

Status of polio cases in 2022
Pakistan has reported 20 cases of polio in 2022, all emerging from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Of the 19 children paralysed by wild poliovirus this year, two belong to Lakki Marwat, 16 from North Waziristan and one from South Waziristan.

Meanwhile, type-1 Wild Poliovirus (WPV1) has been discovered in 32 environmental samples. Of the total, 22 samples were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, nine from Punjab, and one from Sindh.

Persistent security threats
Security remained a key concern amid efforts to eradicate the virus both in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. In October, a policeman and a Levies soldier guarding polio vaccination teams in Pishin and Chaman were martyred when armed men opened fire on them. Similar incident has taken place through the year, dampening the eradication campaign. (Ikram Junaidi, “All 19 polio cases in 2022 came from KPDawn, 17 September 2022; “Countrywide anti-polio campaign to target high-risk areas,” Dawn, 28 November 2022)

 

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