Fight against polio

July 21, 2020

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Importance of the anti-polio campaign has been increased due to the coronavirus pandemic and deputy commissioners should monitor the anti-polio campaigns in their respective districts as the government wants Punjab to be totally free from polio disease. Before the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were fighting against poliovirus. Pakistan is one of the two countries, along with Afghanistan, which are still unable to completely eradicate polio. The battle had to be abandoned because of the physical distancing and lockdown enforcement, which the country is going to resume from today (July 20) with a countrywide campaign. During the lull, the deadly virus kept preying on children under five all the time, and so far, the virus has crippled 60 young lives in the first seven months of the year, of them 21 cases have been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 20 from Sindh, 15 from Balochistan and four from Punjab during the current year. Last year, the tally was 147. The fresh case was reported from Balochistan where a 17-month-old girl, who belongs to Chaman town of Qila Abdullah district, tested positive for the poliovirus. The girl would have to lead special child life because of the refusal of her parents to vaccinate her against the virus. The National Institute of Health has reported it was a case of refusal as the family was against the vaccination due to which the vaccine was not administered to the child during the routine immunisation.

Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar has reiterated that polio-free Punjab is a mission of government and no leniency will be tolerated in this regard. He said that warnings have been issued to DCs of some districts for failing to hold meetings about the eradication of polio in their districts and action will be initiated against the CEO (Health) if the polio case has surfaced in the district. Because of the high frequency of the polio cases, Pakistan is under a polio-linked travel restriction imposed by the World Health Organisation and now every person travelling abroad has to carry a polio vaccination certificate. Hopefully, the resumption of the polio drives will help the government tackle a spike in the polio cases. It can only be done when the public cooperated with the vaccination teams. Polio eradication efforts are often thwarted by parents’ refusal to get their children vaccinated, mainly due to cultural and religious influences. Since its inception in 1994, the polio campaigns in Pakistan have been the victim of misinformation, propaganda, disinformation and lies. As the government fought fake news and disinformation in the case of coronavirus, it should show the same spirit to fight lies in the case of polio vaccine. The world has yet to discover a vaccine against coronavirus, but it has invented and successfully used a vaccine against poliomyelitis which has killed the virus from the entire world, except for two countries. People in our part of the world need to realize the importance of vaccination or be ready to playing with the lives of children.

Because of the high frequency of the polio cases, Pakistan is under a polio-linked travel restriction imposed by the World Health Organisation and now every person travelling abroad has to carry a polio vaccination certificate.

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