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LAHORE: Some 10.44 million children up to five years of age will be vaccinated against polio during the National Stop Transmission of Polio (N-STOP) Programme in vulnerable pockets of 73 districts, towns, agencies across the country from Monday (July 10).

“It will be a three-phase special targeted offensive against the crippling virus,” an official of Federal Ministry of National Health Services told Dawn here on Sunday.

The campaign would target 0.829 million children in Punjab, 4 million in Sindh, 2.93 million in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 1.368 million in Balochistan, 0.342 million in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), 0.453 million in Azad Jammu Kashmir, 0.132 million in Gilgit-Baltistan and 0.31 million children in Islamabad.

Children up to five years of age in Rawalpindi-Islamabad, selected areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata, AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Interior Sindh would be administered anti-polio drops from July 10 to 13 under Phase-I.

Eight districts of Balochistan, besides Karachi, Badin, Sujawal and Thatta would be covered from July 17 to 20 under Phase-II, while Phase-III of the campaign would begin from July 24 and continue till July 30 in Quetta and its surrounding areas.

A total of 75,000 personnel would take part in the campaign across Pakistan, including 2,396 medical officers heading 55,465 mobile, 3,168 fixed and 3,954 transit team members, said the official.

The N-STOP is a collaborative initiative of the Pakistan government, the Field Epidemiology & Laboratory Training Program (FELTP), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta.

Under the programme, public health officers are trained and deployed in critical districts to serve as key technical support persons with the deputy commissioners concerned.

Pakistan recorded 20 polio cases in 2016 with eight each in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two each in Fata and Balochistan. Punjab has had no case in 2016. Globally, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries still having polio cases.

Reporting of a polio case in Lodhran and the persistent presence of polio virus in the environmental samples collected from Multan necessitated launch of a vigorous vaccination campaign in 11 districts of Punjab in March this year.

More than 5.9 million children up to five years of age were vaccinated against polio during the three-day campaign launched in Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Khanewal, Lodhran, Toba Tek Singh, Vehari, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Multan and 37 union councils of Sahiwal.

In February this year, persistent presence of polio virus in the environmental samples collected from Multan led to the launch of a vigorous vaccination campaign also in Lodhran, Muzaffargarh, Khanewal and Toba Tek Singh. Some 1.87 million or so children up to five years of age were vaccinated during the campaign in these areas.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2017