by Nayab T.
Monday, July 20, 2020 at 02:15 PM
A small-scale anti-polio campaign will begin in Karachi from July 20. This will be the first campaign to take place after immunization drives were suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, adding that wider-scale campaigns would be conducted every month in Sindh before the end of this year.
The campaign will be carried out in high-risk areas of the city: Baldia, Orangi, North Nazimabad, Liaqatabad, and SITE towns.
Over 260,000 polio workers will go door-to-door from December 16 to 20 to ensure that all children up till the age of five are vaccinated against the crippling disease.
“We have engaged all stakeholders to ensure the success of the campaign, said National Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar.
“It’s possible for Pakistan to eradicate polio with the support of the community. I urge all parents and caregivers to ensure their children are vaccinated," he added.
Urging parents to vaccinate their children against vaccine-preventable diseases including polio, an official of the Pakistan Paediatric Association (PPA) highlighted that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parents must not fear as the government had taken all necessary precautionary measures as per the protocols of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the safety of children.
“Sanitizers, masks, and gloves have been provided to all polio workers. They will work according to the set SOPs, such as they will not directly handle any child, interact closely with the parents, and spend minimal time at the doorstep.”
According to the authorities, Sindh will conduct back-to-back campaigns from December 2019 to March 2020 to put the polio programme back on the track. However, since the outbreak of COVID-19, no campaigns could be conducted, leaving an immunity gap which needs to be filled.
The official said polio was a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children up till the age of five. “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 up till the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus increases,” he explained
Special Assistant to the PM on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Zafar Mirza assured parents that the vaccine was completely safe and it was essential to immunise children to protect them against polio.
“Pakistan is one of the only two countries in the world, alongside Afghanistan, where poliovirus continues to circulate actively,” he noted.
Earlier, PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said polio remained a national emergency.
He regretted that 98 fresh polio cases have been reported this year. “In 2014, 326 polio cases were reported in the country and the figure was brought down to 12 last year. However, due to a number of factors, polio cases have increased.”
In the year 2020, Pakistan has so far reported 58 confirmed polio cases out of which 20 cases are from Sindh.
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