ISLAMABAD: A crucial polio campaign to immunise more than 8.8 million children under the age of five against the paralysing poliovirus began in 26 districts of the country on Monday.

The campaign is being held in selected districts of Balochistan, Sindh, and Punjab after the detection of polio cases in Dera Bugti, and Chaman and finding of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) in sewage samples of several districts of these provinces.

“Protecting children from incurable polio is a top priority for the government, which is why in response to virus detections, we are deploying polio teams during Ramazan to vaccinate children and keep their immunity against polio high,” said Federal Secretary for Health Iftikhar Ali Shallwani.

“Poliovirus can leave your child paralysed for life, and it is critical for children to have the immunity to fight off infection,” he said.

Dr Shahzad Baig, coordinator for the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, said that WPV1 has been detected in 71 environmental samples so far this year, mostly in Balochistan and Sindh, and has paralysed two children in Balochistan.

“This vaccination campaign is specifically being held in districts where there have been virus detections ahead of the high travel season of Eid to prevent any further spread of the virus as people travel for the holidays,” he said, adding that two nationwide campaigns have already been conducted in January and February, while another drive is planned at the end of April.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2024

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