Polio vaccination campaign in 25 very high-risk districts begins today

Published June 27, 2022
The campaign will start in all four provinces, covering 25 very high-risk districts for polio. — AFP/File
The campaign will start in all four provinces, covering 25 very high-risk districts for polio. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The second Sub-National Immunisation Days (SNIDs) campaign of 2022 will begin on Monday (today) aiming to vaccinate 12.6 million children.

The campaign will start in all four provinces, covering 25 very high-risk districts for polio, to vaccinate children under the age of five. Over 100,000 trained health workers will be engaged in the drive to inoculate children at their doorstep.

Coordinator of the National Emergency Operation Centre Dr Shahzad Baig, in a statement, emphasised that polio campaign required deep attention and utmost responsibility to completely eradicate poliovirus from the country.

“Our aim is to ensure timely and repeated vaccination of eligible children. High-risk districts are our top priority, and we are keen to eliminate the poliovirus from the challenging areas while protecting the rest of the region as well,” he said.

The SehatTahhafuz Helpline 1166 and 24/7 WhatsApp Helpline 0346-777-65-46 will be available to assist parents and caregivers in reporting missed children. The repeated polio vaccination campaigns are imperative for building immunity among children and preventing possible death or lifelong paralysis.

Coordinator of the Emergency Operation Centre, Balochistan, Hameedullah Nasar said on Sunday that all preparations had been completed for the drive. A total of 4,904 teams of vaccinators would take part in the drive in Balochistan, he said, adding that 3,865 teams of vaccinators would visit houses, and 313 teams would be deployed at camps in different areas and 276 teams at entry points of the province.

He said security arrangements for vaccinators had been made as personnel of Frontier Corps, police and Levies forces would accompany them.

He said religious leaders would try to persuade those parents who usually refuse to allow vaccinators to administer polio drops to their children on religious grounds.

Eleven cases of polio have so far been reported in the country this year as compared to only one in 2021. All the 11 cases were reported from North Waziristan.

The emergency committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) on the international spread of poliovirus has recently expressed concern over the outbreak of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) in the North Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It stated that risks to the rest of Pakistan escalated with the ongoing WPV circulation in southern KP. “The key challenges that hampered progress in southern KP include the complex security situation, specifically in North and South Waziristan, which resulted in inadequate access, missed children and reduced quality of campaigns,” it said. Besides, it noted community resistance with refusals to vaccination, lack of female frontline workers, and weak health infrastructure and service delivery all posed challenges.

“All WPV cases reported in 2022 are zero dose for routine immunisation, zero dose or under-immunised in supplementary immunisation activities (SIAs), and are from refusal families. Another challenge in South KP is the sub-optimal Routine Immunisation (RI) and progress on strengthening RI in South KP is slow,” it added.

Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2022

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