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October 24, 2020

With a case count of 79, Pakistan pledges to eradicate polio

Islamabad

October 24, 2020

Islamabad : With a sub-national polio eradication campaign scheduled from October 26 to November 1, the government Friday reaffirmed its committed to making Pakistan polio-free, and to this effect, urged parents to allow polio team to administer polio vaccine to their children in the upcoming campaign.

In a message coinciding with World Polio Day, which is observed each year on October 24, the PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan acknowledged the importance of eradicating polio for global health. This year’s theme ‘A win against polio is a win for global health’ acknowledges that after 30 years of global hard work, humanity is close to achieving the goal of having a polio-free world. Sadly enough, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries of the world that are still struggling to achieve riddance from poliovirus. At this crucial moment, the world highlights that as long as polio exists anywhere, it will remain a threat everywhere.

Pakistan has reported 79 cases of polio so far in 2020, with Balochistan contributing 23 cases to the national count, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh (22 cases each), and Punjab (12 cases). Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan have remained polio-free. According to comparative data from the from the last five years, the country reported 54 cases in 2015, 20 in 2016, 8 in 2017, 12 in 2018, and 147 in 2019.

“The government is fully committed to making Pakistan polio free forever. It is absolutely necessary that children receive this life-saving vaccine and I request all parents to allow polio teams to administer polio drops to their children, I am confident that together with our people and international partners, we will achieve our target of making a safer, healthier and polio-free Pakistan for our children.”

More than 30 million children under the age of five in 128 districts across Pakistan will be vaccinated against polio during the upcoming campaign, which will cover 33 districts each of Punjab and Balochistan, 41 districts of Sindh, 8 districts of Gilgit Baltistan, 10 districts of AJK, and one district of KP. More than 210,000 frontline workers will go door-to-door to protect children from the crippling disease. The vaccinators will continue to adhere to COVID-19 preventative operating procedures as they did in campaigns conducted in July, August and September.

Dr. Rana Safdar, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme said, “While we may have not achieved zero cases, the Programme has been able to secure the future of millions of children through continued vaccination. Despite multiple challenges, our workers remain committed and are the real heroes. The world’s eyes are focused on Pakistan. Now it’s up to the parents and society as a whole to open doors to frontline workers to get rid of not only polio, but all other vaccine-preventable diseases as well.”