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PESHAWAR, July 2: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has allocated Rs35 million to strengthen the union council polio eradication committees and ensure vaccination of every child below five years of age against the crippling disease in the province.

In a statement issued here on Monday, provincial chief secretary Ghulam Dastagir Khan said the continued polio transmission in the country had become a national emergency.

“Eradicating polio is a challenge for us all,” he said.

Mr Ghulam Dastagir said Pakistan had come a long way in its struggle against polio but the tremendous progress towards eradication of the virus was being threatened by certain factors.

He said samples from the province were continuously emerging as positive for wild poliovirus type 1, while the cases being reported by Fata and other parts of the country indicated a widespread circulation of WPV1.

“It’s an immediate threat to the children in the province,” he said.

The chief secretary said last year, of the 23 reported polio cases in the province, 70 per cent occurred from July to December, making it the ominous high transmission season. He stressed the need for improving quality of anti-polio campaigns through coordinated efforts for polio eradication. Mr Ghulam Dastagir said polio eradication in the province was one of the government’s top priorities.

He said all commissioners, district coordination officers and executive district officers (health) in the province had already been told to effectively enforce the strategy for polio eradication at UC level. He added that Rs10,000 would be used for every immunisation campaign in every union council.

“The district authorities will ensure efficient use of these funds to strengthen their respective polio eradication committees,” he said.