KARACHI: With a special focus on the flood-affected districts and cases of vaccine refusal in Karachi, the Sindh government launched on Monday a week-long polio immunisation drive targeting 6.6 million children in the province.
The campaign will cover 21 districts including the flood-affected areas of the province.
According to officials, this time the challenge for the teams is to reach every child in flood-affected districts and vaccinate them against the crippling disease. Besides, they point out, special attention would be given to the 5,314 children in Karachi “who routinely refuse” polio vaccine for which their parents would be counselled.
“We request parents to cooperate with polio teams that will come at their doorsteps to administer the drops to their children,” stated Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah at the official launch of the campaign held at the CM House.
Seven-day campaign targeting 6.6m children across province
The government with parents’ cooperation and efforts of health workers, he said, had succeeded in containing the disease in the province.
“I note with happiness that Sindh hasn’t reported a single case of polio in the last two years. But, the disease is still a threat as the disease is yet to be eradicated from the entire country.”
The ceremony held at the CM House was also attended by health and population welfare minister Dr Azra Pechuho, chief secretary Sohail Rajput, Additional Inspector General Karachi Javed Odho, secretary health Zulfiqar Shah, coordinator Emergency and Operation Centre Fayaz Abbasi in attendance.
The campaign, according to officials, would partially cover flood-affected areas of Jamshoro, Shaheed Benazirabad, and Qambar with 17,859 teams participating in the drive.
Polio virus threatens children
According to sources, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries left in the world where the poliovirus continues to threaten the children. The former has been fighting the disease since 1994.
This year, 20 polio cases have been identified in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and environmental samples of specific genetic clusters have been found in the country despite carrying several rounds of vaccination.
In Malir, Karachi, an environmental sample contaminated with poliovirus was detected in August.
According to experts, as long as the virus continues to circulate in the environment, no child in the country is completely safe from contracting it. This is why it is the shared responsibility of everyone to ensure that all vulnerable children under the age of five are vaccinated against this deadly disease in every door-to-door campaign.
The poliovirus is transmitted by person-to-person and is spread mainly through the faecal-oral route, or, less frequently, by a common vehicle, such as contaminated water or food. Thereafter, the poliovirus multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and cause paralysis.
Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2022
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