ISLAMABAD: More than 32 million children under the age of five have been vaccinated against polio during an immunisation campaign in 130 districts across the country.
In addition to the drops, children (aged between six and 59 months) received Vitamin A supplements during the campaign started on Aug 13.
According to the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio Eradication, 32,100,802 children were vaccinated against polio across the country.
A total of 225,000 trained vaccinators went door-to-door for vaccination, defying the harsh weather. All vaccinators were trained about preventative measures, especially handling of children during vaccination in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. They were also provided face masks and hand sanitiser for added protection.
“We have managed to achieve impressive coverage despite the challenging context of Covid-19, hot weather and heavy rainfall. Our valiant trained frontline workers work hard to reach eligible children across the country. Children have also been administered Vitamin A supplements to strengthen their immune system for greater protection against diseases during this campaign. Celebrities, intellectuals and religious leaders came forward to support the polio eradication efforts,” coordinator of the NEOC for Polio Dr Rana Mohammad Safdar said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
Health teams were provided face masks, hand sanitiser
“Still, we have challenges to overcome. Data-driven analysis of challenges at the grass-roots level helps us identify the underlying issues associated with missed children, pockets of refusals as well as reservoirs of poliovirus circulation.
“Strengthening essential immunisation is also important to facilitate the interruption of all poliovirus transmission. The programme is prioritising essential immnunisation as part of the national agenda. I’m confident that we will be able to bring positive changes and make Pakistan polio-free so that no child remains at risk of contracting polio disease and getting paralysed for life,” he further said while highlighting the challenges.
The polio vaccination campaign has been conducted successfully in all provinces at a larger scale following an initial small-scale campaign in July. Campaign activities were affected in a few districts due to heavy rainfall and smart lockdowns in some areas and, therefore, extended catch-up activities were also carried out to reach the intended target.
Following the successful resumption of campaign activities, the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme plans to conduct other large-scale national and sub-national campaigns between September and December.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. 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.
Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2020