At least 1.3 million children below the age of five will be vaccinated against the crippling poliovirus during the three-day anti-polio campaign that is set to commence today (Monday).
“At least 395 fixed and 210 transit points have been established where 3,619 polio workers will perform their duties to vaccinate more than 1.3 million children across Balochistan,” said Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Balochistan coordinator Dr Saifur Rehman.
The inoculation campaign will focus on the Pak-Afghan border crossing of the Friendship Gate in Chaman to control polio spread on this transit point. Children under the age of 10 will also be given polio drops at the border crossing.
“Contingents of Pakistan Army and the paramilitary Frontier Corps will provide security to the vaccinators in sensitive areas,” the in-charge of the EOC said.
Their deployment comes in the wake of this week’s slaying of seven policemen who were guarding polio workers in Karachi.
Moreover, inoculation drive in Jhal-Magsi district has been delayed due to the upcoming by-elections for the National Assembly in the constituency. Vaccination campaign in Jhal Magsi will start from May 3, he said.
“In Killa Saifullah, Killa Abdullah, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Pishin, Loralai, Dera Bugti, Pishin, Lasbela, Sherani, Quetta, Zhob and other parts of the province the polio drive would be commenced as per announced dates,” Dr Rehman said.
Talking about the injectable polio vaccine, he said, the programme remained successful. In high-risk districts, more than 240,000 children have been injected against the crippling poliovirus, he said.
Unicef’s polio team leader Dr Jawahir Habib said that the struggle against the disease would continue till its elimination from the province. “Emergence of only a single polio case in the province during the current year proves that Balochistan is moving ahead against the polio battle,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2016.