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February 8, 2020

Year’s first polio drive to start on Monday

Karachi

February 8, 2020

As many as 2.3 million children would be vaccinated against the crippling disease of polio in Karachi during the upcoming National Immunisation Days (NIDs) or the countrywide polio eradication campaign starting on February 10, officials said on Friday.

“The Emergency Operation Centre for polio will be conducting a polio eradication campaign across Karachi from 10th to 17th February 2020, which will target approximately 2.3 million children under five years of age in all six districts of the city,” an official of the EOC Sindh said, adding that more than 13,000 workers and supervisors would take part in the campaign.

Officials said that over 5,000 police personnel would be providing security cover to teams, which would go door to door as well as to schools to provide children this vital vaccine.

After a difficult year for polio in 2019, the government aims to turn the tide with successive campaigns till June 2020, and the EOC had appealed to all parents to come forward and vaccinate their children to save them from this vaccine-preventable disease.

Apart from schools and door-to-door visits, more than 30 hospitals, 60 pediatric clinics and EPI centres across the city will also be administering the polio vaccine, and in order to reach the maximum number of children, evening vaccinations will also be offered at such premises.

In the lead up to the campaign, the EOC Sindh led meetings with all district staff of Karachi to identify the gaps and help fill them and motivate the staff to do their jobs in the best manner possible. In addition, special motivation workers were held in the super high-risk UCs of Karachi where high-performing workers and supervisors were appreciated and given certificates by EOC Coordinator Sindh Rehan Baloch and the EOC Core Team.

On the occasion, Rehan Iqbal Baloch told workers: “The time is from now till June. All of you must perform and leave no stone unturned so that we can save the future of our children. It is all of you that turned the situation around from when we had 306 polio cases in the country in 2014 to just 12 in 2018. I am counting on you to do your best to turn this around again.”

In addition to this, on the directives of the Sindh chief minister, the EOC Sindh had earlier held a grand session with all UC chairmen in Karachi, who pledged their support for polio eradication above any political allegiance. In the week leading up to the campaign, the UC chairmen came good on their promise and held sessions with district polio staff to identify areas where their support was needed, and they will now join teams on the ground to cover missed children and to further sensitise those that are resistant.

In 2019, the April incident and a subsequent long gap in the polio campaign led to an increase in cases. However, a successful December campaign and a case response in January forms a good foundation to turn to the tide and get back on track and the EOC is fully committed to conducting the upcoming campaigns with the same energy and commitment.

In addition to this, steps are also being taken to increase routine immunisation coverage across Sindh. Meanwhile, in the lead up to the campaign, free medical health camps are being provided by the district health officers in collaboration with the EOC Sindh in high-risk UCs of Karachi.

Polio Round NIDs will start on 10th February and runt till 16th February in Karachi Division and from 17th February to 23rd February in other divisions of Sindh. The total target (under five children) of Sindh is 9071978. The target for Karachi is 2,336,797.