RAWALPINDI: The fourth anti-polio campaign of 2024 will start on Monday (today) targeting 9.1 million children in the province.

The campaign, which will be rolled out in 10 districts, is being labelled as a key initiative to block local poliovirus circulation. The districts are: Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Sheikhupura, Mianwali, Faisalabad and Okara.

In Rawalpindi, Mianwali and Sheikhupura, the campaign will be held partially.

However, all areas in rest of the districts will be covered in full. In Rawalpindi, Lahore and Faisalabad, the campaign will last seven days while in the other districts it will continue for five days only.

In all districts, the last two days of the campaign will be allocated to cover the leftover children.

Over 67,000 polio workers will participate in the campaign, including 60,000 mobile team members.

“All environmental samples which have tested positive in Punjab are linked to polio virus clusters active across the border in Afghanistan or other endemic and high-risk districts of Pakistan.

This proves that Punjab is at the risk of polio virus importation.

Therefore, Punjab is taking concrete steps to prevent the local circulation of virus by implementing immediate outbreak responses,” said Khizer Afzaal, the head of the polio eradication programme and the coordinator for Emergency Operations Centre, in a press release.

He said Punjab had set up transit vaccination points to immunise cross-border and inter-provincial populations to prevent virus from entering Punjab, urging parents to cooperate with polio teams.

It may be mentioned that polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years.

It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death.

While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from the crippling disease.

Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased.

Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries to become polio-free except Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2024

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