The fight against poliovirus is continued as Pakistan is near to achieving the landmark of being declared as a polio-free country. Pakistan on Monday launched this year’s first nationwide anti-polio campaign even as coronavirus infections surge.
About 150,000 health workers are taking part in the five-day, anti-polio drive to inoculate 22.4 million children under age 5, according to a statement issued by Shahzad Beg, the coordinator for the polio program. The previous campaign took place weeks ago when Pakistan witnessed a decline in COVID-19 cases.
Authorities hope the latest campaign will help make Pakistan a polio-free nation.
Last year, Pakistan reported only one polio case from the country’s southwestern Baluchistan province. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic and the disease can cause partial paralysis in children.
Pakistan for 25 years has been carrying out regular inoculation campaigns in which health workers go door-to-door to give polio drops to children. Most of the workers are women, as they can get better access to mothers and children.
Inaugurating the anti-polio campaign, Dr Sultan said that the country had recorded a historic low number of cases in 2021 and “we don’t want to lose this opportunity” to finally defeat this crippling disease by remaining vigilant and persistent.
“Our aim is to ensure timely and repeated vaccination of eligible children. In 2022, the Polio programme will focus on sustaining the gains achieved in 2021. A targeted approach is being adopted to address the challenges in high-risk areas,” Dr Sultan added.
During the SNIDs campaign, more than 150,000 trained and dedicated “Sehat Muhafiz” will be engaged in the vaccination process to inoculate the targeted children at their doorstep. Dr Sutlan examined the vaccination arrangements and emphasized the importance of providing seamless services to children.
Despite the long struggle against the poliovirus, there are still some grey areas that are needed to be addressed on an urgent basis. Firstly, the awareness against the vaccination is vital to make the masses understand how it is important to protect the future of the children. Secondly, the unfortunate incidents including attacks on polio teams and the security officials, and harassing the teams is also a reason behind why Pakistan is still on the list of countries fighting the virus.
Today two unfortunate incidents happened in Pakistan. In the first incident, a constable on polio duty was shot dead while in the second incident a polio worker was killed in a collision with a big vehicle.
The important thing which is needed to be considered seriously is Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are the only countries in the region that are not free from poliovirus. To get rid of this virus it is vital to protect the polio workers from these kinds of unfortunate incidents and should accept the validity of the vaccination.