Country-wide polio vaccination campaign from Monday

Battling polio for past several years, Pakistan is close to completely eradicating the crippling disease

Web Desk
A health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a polio vaccination campaign in Karachi on April 9, 2018. Photo: AFP

The last polio campaign of the 2017-2018 low transmission season will commence across the country from Monday (tomorrow).

According to the federal government, a total of 23.8 million children under five years of age are to be targeted in the immunisation campaign, including 7.8 million in Punjab, 8.17 million in Sindh, 4.46 million in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 1.98 million in Balochistan, 1.04 million in FATA, and 0.33 million children in Islamabad.

A total of 161,000 health workers will strive to achieve targets across Pakistan including 16,673 area in-charges, 4,561 union council medical officers, 122,432 mobile teams, 5,728 fixed teams and 8,044 transit team members.

Security agencies in the countries have ensured their support for the polio teams and will work towards providing a safe environment.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, that suffers from endemic polio, a childhood virus that can cause paralysis or death.

The country has been battling polio for the past several years and is close to completely eradicating the crippling disease.

The number of cases has declined from 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015, 20 in 2016 and eight in 2017.

In 2018, only one polio case has so far been reported from Dukki, Balochistan.

Last month, more than 4,000 families refused to administer their children with polio drops during an ongoing immunisation drive in Punjab.

Health department officials had said that the refusals, originating from five districts of the province, stemmed from an anti-vaccine video being propagated on social media.

In February, a fake video regarding deaths caused by the polio vaccine had gone viral and had led to refusal cases in Rawalpindi.

According to the government, five out of eight children paralysed by the poliovirus in 2017 came from families refusing vaccination due to misconceptions.