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October 24, 2020

Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation’s role in the eradication of polio

Lahore

 
October 24, 2020

Pakistan had 82 percent of the world’s cases of polio in 2014. One newspaper editorial at the time called the epidemic Pakistan’s “badge of shame.” Polio (also known as poliomyelitis) is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Children age five years or younger are more likely to contract the virus than any other group. There are different kinds of polio, including spinal polio, non-paralytic, and paralytic polio, and according to theWorld Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 200 polio infection results in permanent paralysis. The government effectively declared war on polio, condemning the outbreak as a national disaster, words transformed into action. Led by this renewed commitment, the country rallied, intensifying immunizations through new strategies that resulted in a dramatic decrease in polio cases over the next two years. At hundreds of sites, teams of health workers verify that every child passing through receives the vaccine. The number of new infections dropped from 306 in 2014 to 56 the next year, a decrease of 82 percent. Polio has drastic effects on the health of the people of Pakistan, its healthcare infrastructure, and the economy. The WHO estimates that 65–75% of polio cases in developing countries occur in children under three years of age, with 95% of all cases occurring in children under five years of age. Pakistan is one of the three remaining countries in the world categorized as an endemic viral infection, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. As per The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, there are 77 WPV1 cases recorded in 2020 so far, while the total number of cases reported in 2019 remains 147. Unfortunately, Pakistan tops the list of polio-affected countries in the world, which is why we need immediate measures to eradicate polio now more than ever. While speaking at a morning show of Geo News Pakistan, Parliamentary Health Secretary, Nousheen Hamid, about the measures the government has

been taking to curb poliovirus in Pakistan, she said: “In 2019, 170 cases of polio were reported in the country and, the peak month was December, in which 17 polio cases had emerged.” She further added, four nationwide campaigns were launched at the government level to eradicate the virus, and they yielded good results but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those campaigns had to be stopped due to which new cases of polio emerged. However, Geo News and the MKRF are adamant about eradicating polio from Pakistan. A campaign of Geo News and the Jang Group under MKRF, ‘Qatray pilao, polio ko harao’ “administer the vaccine, defeat polio”, kicked off on September 18 and continued until October 18. MKRF is spreading messages on how to save the children of Pakistan from being handicapped and how the public at large can remain healthy. The reason to initiate this campaign again is to save the children of Pakistan from the crippling disease. Various news packages are being aired to inform the people about the dangers of the virus, and the need to administer the polio vaccine to children under five. MKR (Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman) Foundation has a very holistic and integrated approach that seeks to bridge learning, development, and communication to address pressing issues faced by the society, market, and public sector. One of the key areas of focus of MKRF’s work is the emergency response; the foundation has proven its effectiveness during many worst situations. Whether it was crises of Tsunami, Earthquake, or IDPs of Swat ormost recent devastating floods in the country, MKRF renders support to government intuitions, relief agencies having extensive experience, and local organizations upholding local relationships. Qatray pilao, polio ko harao’ is the third part of a series of awareness campaigns of MKRF that seeks to unite the country in the belief that defeating polio, and eliminating it from Pakistan is a national duty of every citizen. During the campaign, 40 million children under the age of five were to be administered anti-poliovirus drops. It is essential to teach parents that not only the virus can cause disabilities in their children, but it can also take their lives. Since the virus, once inflicted, has no treatment, the only remedy is the vaccine. We must administer our children’s polio drops to ensure a healthy Pakistan. A delegation of Rotary International leaders from around the world who leads efforts for Rotary’s Pakistan Polio Plus program traveled to Pakistan in February 2020 to meet with government leaders, including Prime Minister Imran Khan. The government leaders praised Rotary for its prominent role in polio eradication and for providing vital financial support to Pakistan and other polio-threatened countries. Rotary members have contributed more than $2.1 billion and countless volunteer hours to ending polio. They engaged with some of the major donors of the GPEI and visited the National Emergency Operations Centre, where a high-tech data collection system monitored progress in real-time having 230 Rotary clubs and nearly 3400 Rotary members in Pakistan only.Regardless of how thorough the improved vaccination campaigns are, the overall polio eradication effort in Pakistan hinges on a single, crucial touch point: community trust. In the words of Aidan O’Leary, UNICEF’s chief of antipolio efforts in Pakistan, “Everything boils down to the critical interaction between a vaccinator and the parent that leads to a successful vaccination of every child inside that house. Everything Success is success at the doorstep.”