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April 22, 2019

Over 9 million children to be reached as anti-polio campaign starts in Sindh today


April 22, 2019

Following the emergence of Karachi’s first polio case of 2019 from Lyari in March and the high incidence of refusals by the parents to have the anti-polio vaccine administered to their children, the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for Polio in Sindh will conduct a seven-day anti-polio campaign in Karachi from today (Monday) till April 28 and in the rest of Sindh from today till April 24.

Over 9 million children under five years of age in Sindh are the target population for the campaign, of whom approximately 2.4 million children belong to Karachi. More than 56,000 front line workers are set to take part in the anti-polio campaign, who include team members and area incharges.

In Karachi alone, more than 12,000 community health workers supported by over 2,500 area incharges will go door to door to administer polio drops to the children. They will be given the security cover by approximately 5,000 personnel of the law enforcement agencies.

Officials said the campaign was extremely crucial to combat polio as environment samples had been positive in Karachi and some other areas of Sindh regarding the polio virus and a polio case had emerged in Lyari last month. They added that many parents were still not allowing the administration of polio vaccine to their children.

“Sindh has reported one case in 2019 which is from Lyari, Karachi while last year, one polio case was reported which was from Gadap in Karachi,” an official of the initiative for polio eradication in Sindh said, adding that two new polio cases in Sindh were reported in 2017, eight in 2016, 12 in 2015 and 30 in 2014.

The official said as the authorities had been emphasising the need for vaccination against polio, parents were now tired of seeing polio workers at their doors twice or thrice every month but it was the crucial time for the eradication of the dreaded disease for which the authorities required the parents’ support.

EOC Sindh Coordinator Umer Farooq Bullo said the district polio control rooms, health officials of the Sindh government and anti-polio teams had done a remarkable job by bringing the count of new polio cases down but the goal was still to reach to zero polio case for two consecutive years.

“Hence, we must continue to work hard and focus on the areas where the virus springs up. We have established model EPI centres in underserved areas to increase routine immunisation and will implement other programmes in order to improve health care delivery for their residents,” Bullo added.

There has been a 99 per cent reduction in the polio cases across the country since 2014. The total number of new polio cases in Pakistan was 12 in 2018, eight in 2017, 20 in 2016, 54 in 2015 and 306 in 2014. This year, six new polio cases have been registered in Pakistan so far.

“We would like to take this opportunity to inform the masses that repeated vaccination is necessary for polio eradication and to ensure that children are safe from polio. We request the parents to cooperate with polio teams and secure the future of their own children by giving them two drops of the polio vaccine,” Bullo said.

The Pakistan Paediatric Association and medical experts recommend that every child must take two drops of the vaccine every time it is offered. Meanwhile, religious scholars representing all the sects have too endorsed the anti-polio programme and given Fatwas asking the people to have their children vaccinated against polio to protect them from lifelong disability.

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