Health workers are set to launch the third and most important campaign against polio virus on Monday (today) with an aim to cover over 2.2 million children under the age of five across the city. Top health officials have appealed to citizens to help polio teams during their three-day campaign.
The third single-phased drive in the port city has been dubbed ‘extremely crucial’ as not only the polio teams fight to end the crippling disease but the virus too is fighting for its survival. Health experts believe the virus is only attacking extremely weak infants now.
“The virus fights for its survival,” explained Karachi commissioner Syed Asif Hyder Shah while talking to The Express Tribune. “So do we,” he added. He said the government is committed to defeating the virus once and for all.
The provincial government launched the single phase drive in the city in mid-January and aims to continue till June, with a plan to reach every single child.
In December last year, cases of refusal were reported at over 44,000 in different areas, especially in high-risk localities like Gaddap, Landhi, Orangi, SITE and Baldia. “The number has reduced to around 14,000 in the last two drives,” said the commissioner who also leads the polio fight as chief of the Karachi Task Force.
Explaining details, Shah said causes of earlier refusals could be social or religious, as well negligence of teams.
The commissioner explained that support teams have also been increased which consists of officials from different departments, including revenue, to assist polio teams in their respective areas.
More than 12,000 security personnel will be deployed across the city for 6,500 teams along with 200 support teams.
“I appeal to the general public, especially mothers, to cooperate with polio workers,” Shah said. “Their cooperation is very important in fighting the war against polio,” he added. He said most people believe administering drops regularly [monthly] was useless. “It’s very important as every child gets the vaccine,” he clarified.
Senior paediatrician Prof Iqbal A Memon said parents should cooperate with polio workers and should not be worried about repeated doses. “If you love your children, you must make your child’s immunity system stronger [against the virus],” said Memon, adding that “If you avoid [miss] the drops, the virus will attack your child.”
According to an official of the Emergency Operation Centre, special inactivated polio vaccine campaigns are planned for areas which are susceptible to polio and the first such drive will be initiated from March 28 to April 5.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2016.