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ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan, Monday, started the second anti-poliovirus drive of the ongoing year setting a target to cover more than 45.8 million across the country during the next two weeks.

While opening the campaign here, Federal Secretary for the Ministry of National Health Services and Regulations Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said that he was personally monitoring the polio vaccination activities and interacted with polio teams.

This is the second consecutive nationwide campaign of the year after poliovirus was detected in sewage samples from 19 districts in January and in 126 sewage samples in 2023. The first campaign of 2024 was held from January 8 to January 14, during which over 43 million children were vaccinated.

Shallwani visited the Community Health Centre in Union Council Shah Allah Ditta along with district administration officials and the senior leadership of the Polio Programme, National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) Coordinator Dr Shahzad Baig and inspected the availability of adequate polio vaccine, well-trained fixed teams, and administrative support staff.

He also visited polio vaccinators in the field as they went door-to-door immunizing children. During his interactions with vaccinators, Shallwani appreciated their hard work and dedication to protecting the future generations of Pakistan from polio and encouraged them to continue their mission with the same enthusiasm.

The health secretary also visited a transit vaccination team in ZamZam Plaza, Dhoke Abassi area of UC Rural, and spent time with the team there which was busy in vaccinating children on the move. Transit teams play a crucial role in vaccination of children who are travelling and might be missed in house-to-house campaigns.

The health secretary said, “For decades polio has continued to be a constant threat for our children, devastating lives and leaving them paralyzed. We cannot allow this disease to persist.”

He added Pakistan reported only six polio cases last year and stands much closer to eradication than ever before, and this last mile requires even more effort than before.

“Polio eradication is and will remain a top priority for the Government of Pakistan,” he said. “I am personally overseeing this campaign in different parts of the country to visit teams and communities, especially those in high-risk areas, to understand the remaining challenges and to support the programme as we strive to end polio from this country.”

The Health Ministry is conducting the second nationwide polio vaccination of the year this week with the aim to vaccinate more than 45.8 million children under five across the nation to protect them from paralytic polio. The campaign will continue until March 9.

He said that polio is a terrible disease that has no cure and can leave children paralyzed for life. Unfortunately, it continues to be a threat to our children as some people refuse to vaccinate children based on misconceptions and false information about the vaccine.

Shallwani added that while the government remains strongly committed to ending polio in Pakistan and is making great progress, as decision makers, parents and caregivers also have a huge responsibility to ensure their children’s wellbeing.

He said that polio vaccinators are delivering this vital vaccine to the doorsteps of the masses and it was the prime responsibility of the parents to vaccinate their children up to five years of age.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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