Drive to vaccinate 5.8m kids against polio begins

Published January 25, 2022
A health worker administers the polio vaccine to a child in Karachi on Monday.—Online
A health worker administers the polio vaccine to a child in Karachi on Monday.—Online

KARACHI: A polio immunisation campaign was launched on Monday targeting 5.8 million children under the age of five years in 20 high-risk districts including Karachi.

A total of 2m children will be inoculated in Karachi during the week-long campaign.

Part of the sub-national immunisation days, the seven-day campaign was officially launched by Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho at the Khalid Jamil Hospital in the presence of officials representing the Sindh Emergency and Operation Centre (EOC) and health department.

Explaining the campaign’s need, a Sindh EOC spokesperson said children had been badly affected by the pandemic that temporarily suspended immunisation drives. The spokesperson said the government had been addressing this problem through back-to-back monthly polio campaigns since August 2020.

“Thanks to these campaigns, Sindh has not reported a single case of polio since July 2020 and environment samples are also negative. If we continue with the same momentum, we will further see significant results, but we must not get complacent and continue the hard work,” he said.

The government, he pointed out, understood that communities in the high-risk union committees for polio need other services that were being provided through different schemes.

These initiatives, he added, included establishment of water filtration plants, experimental dispensaries, model EPI centres, mother and child health facilities and carrying out health camps in underserved areas throughout the province.

“While we deal with the pandemic, we must also deal with childhood immunisation to prevent childhood diseases. The benefits of vaccination are clear as frequent campaigns have significantly reduced the burden of polio across the country,” he said.

“Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan and has so far reported a total of one polio case in 2021,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2022

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