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Five-day polio vaccination drive begins in Balochistan today

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QUETTA: A five-day vaccination campaign against polio will begin in 20 districts of Balochistan on Monday (today) during which more than 1.2 million children will be administered polio drops.

The coordinator of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) in Balochistan, Rashid Razzaq, has said in a statement that all preparations have been made for the anti-polio campaign.

According to him, over 4,500 teams of vaccinators will take part in the campaign during which children under the age of five will be administered polio drops. Among them around 4,000 are mobile teams and 490 camps will be set up in cities and towns and 264 camps at entry points of the province.

Security arrangements for the vaccinators and other people taking part in the anti-polio campaign have been finalised.

According to Mr Razzaq, a large number of personnel of Frontier Corps Balochistan, police and Levies Force would be deployed at the camps and would accompany the mobile teams of vaccinators.

He said religious leaders, including imams at mosques, were being involved in the campaign to reduce the number of refusal cases. They would persuade those parents who are usually reluctant to get their children vaccinated against polio, he said, adding that the religious leaders would also play an important role in removing misunderstandings among people about polio drops.

Over 4,500 teams will take part in campaign

The districts where the polio campaign will begin on Monday are: Barkhan, Bolan, Dera Bugti, Dukki, Harnai, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi, Kalat, Khuzdar, Kohlu, Killa Saifullah, Loralai, Mastung, Musa Khel, Nasirabad, Sherani,, Sibi, Sohbat Pur, Zhob and Ziarat.

Urging parents to get their children administered polio drops, Mr Razzaq said that with the support of civil society, religious leaders and media great successes had been achieved in the fight against polio. “Parents should cooperate with the vaccinators and should not refuse to get their children vaccinated,” he added.

Resurgence of polio

Pakistan and Afghanistan are only two countries in the world with wild poliovirus transmission.

Last year, Pakistan saw a resurgence of polio, with 144 cases; up from 12 in 2018. Dozens of new cases of polio have been reported in the country since beginning of this year. Pakistan remains under a polio-linked travel restriction imposed by the World Health Organisation due to which, since 2014, every person travelling abroad has to carry a polio vaccination certificate.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five. 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 this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, his/her protection against the virus is increased.

Repeated immunization has protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio free.

During his official visit to Pakistan last month UN Secretary-General, António Guterres praised Pakistan’s efforts for eradication of poliovirus from the country.

“Polio is one of the few diseases we can eradicate in the world in the next few years. This is a priority of the United Nations and I am extremely happy to see it is a clear priority for the Government of Pakistan,” he said.

“My appeal to all leaders, religious leaders, community leaders, is to fully support the Government of Pakistan and other governments around the world to make sure that we will be able to fully eradicate polio,” he added.

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