As part of the government’s renewed efforts to eradicate polio, anti-polio campaigns are set to start in various parts on the country — including Lahore, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Balochistan — on Monday. The campaigns of various lengths will span over the next 7 days.
Previous attempts at such campaigns and use of the anti-polio vaccine have been met with resistance amongst some parts of the country which has led to many children not being vaccinated against the disease.
This lack of control has caused Pakistan to be one of three remaining nations — the other two being Afghanistan and Nigeria — that are still fighting polio.
Most recently, five new cases of polio have brought the total number up to 58 this year. This indicating a sharp increase of 383.33 per cent from last year’s figure of 12.
Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan showed "serious concern" over the recent spike in polio cases in the country and directed federal and provincial government officials to undertake effective awareness and immunisation campaigns so that the disease can be kept in check.
The premier also announced that he will start leading the polio programme from November.
Today marks the first day of the anti-polio campaign in the city. According to District Commissioner Saleh Saeed, the campaign will run from the August 26 to August 28, during which polio drops will be administered to 18.5 million children.
More than 5000 teams are participating in the campaign in order to ensure that the vaccine reaches as many children as possible.
Assistant commissioners and sub-registrars will be present to monitor the teams and ensure efficiency of the campaign, Saeed said.
To prevent unrest and ensure the safety of the polio workers, strict security arrangements have also been made for the teams.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will also see a three-day anti-polio drive, which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Anti-Polio Measures Babar Bin Atta earlier today at the Police Lines Hospital.
During the course of the campaign — which will cover 27 districts in the region — over 3 million children are expected to be be vaccinated against polio.
Out of the 58 cases reported this year, 44 were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the province has been experiencing outbreaks since October 2018.
It is also the region that has exhibited the most resistance against the polio vaccine with incidents of parents putting false markings on their children to avoid the vaccine.
A seven-day campaign against polio will be launched in Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi and Sohbat Pur districts this week, Radio Pakistan reported.
During this time, more than 1 million children will be given anti-polio drops.
The campaign, which consists of 4000 teams which will administer polio drops to children at the doorstep. The campaign will be overseen by Provincial Coordinator of Polio Emergency Operation Centre, Rashid Razzaq.