QUETTA: Balochistan will administer polio drops to 1.7 million children in a door-to-door campaign starting from Oct 24 — World Polio Day — in 19 districts, the provincial coordinator for the Emergency Operation Centre said on Thursday.
A seven-day anti-polio campaign would be launched in five high-risk districts and a five-day campaign in other districts, Syed Zahid Shah told reporters at a press conference in Quetta.
He noted that Balochistan has remained polio-free since April last year and the virus has not been detected in the samples taken from the environment and drains, even in the red zone districts of Quetta, Chaman, Pishin, Qila Abdullah and Mastung.
However, Mr Shah warned against complacency. “We have succeeded in controlling the situation to a great extent, but the danger is still not averted,” he said, citing polio cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Afghanistan.
Balochistan has remained polio-free since April 2021
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mozambique remained the only three countries where poliovirus cases are being reported. This year, they have reported 19, two and seven cases, respectively.
All of Pakistan’s 19 cases have been reported from KP, including 16 from North Waziristan, two from Lakki Marwat and one from South Waziristan.
Replying to a question, Mr Shah said an anti-polio campaign was launched in Afghanistan, which helped reduce the number of polio cases and hoped that it would also bring a positive change in the behaviour of the people living in border areas of Pakistan, who have opposed the anti-polio campaigns in the past.
“The Emergency Operation Centre Balochistan is determined to eradicate polio. We need the support of the media so that our province can be protected from it,” he said.
Representatives from the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Children’s Fund, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other organisations were also present on the occasion.
Mr Shah said the number of parents refusing to administer polio drops to their children in Balochistan had reduced significantly due to the joint efforts of the government and partner organisations.
He also appreciated polio workers for their efforts to administer drops to children at their doorsteps, even in the face of threats to their lives. Some 10 polio workers and 21 security personnel have been martyred and 33 personnel injured in the province since 2012, Mr Shah said.
Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2022