More than seven million children will be inoculated during the anti-polio drive which will begin in 12 sensitive districts on Monday (tomorrow).
This was stated during a meeting on Saturday which was chaired by the Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid to finalise the preparations for the drive. Further, it was revealed that more than 18,000 teams from the health department will participate in the door-to-door campaign.
The sensitive districts include Lahore, Sheikhupura, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Layyah, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Attock.
“It was a matter of great concern for all stake holders when environmental samples from Lahore, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rawalpindi tested positive for the polio virus. We have decided to expedite the polio drive at selected areas,” the minister expressed.
She urged parents to have their children vaccinated during the five-day campaign. “Multiple doses are required for a child to be truly safe from polio. Parents who do not ensure that their child is vaccinated are risking the lives of all of their children,” Rashid emphasised.
There were no reported cases of polio in 2016. However in 2017, a four-month-old child from Lodhran tested positive for polio. Currently, Punjab remains polio-free because of the eradication drives that frequently occur in the province. Globally, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are three countries which are still ensnared by the crippling disease.
Punjab Health Director General Dr Munir Ahmed emphasised the need for all the children to be immunised during every campaign. “As long as the virus is being detected from any part of the country, no child is safe,” he said.
He stressed on the need to report suggestions and complaints. Ahmed reiterated his resolve to interrupt virus transmission in the current season and assured citizens that the polio vaccine is safe, efficacious and has been approved by the government’s drug regulatory authority.
Deputy Commissioner Mudassar Riaz inaugurated a three-day anti-polio drive by administering drops to a child at Shahbaz Sharif Hospital on Saturday.
The drive will formally commence from November 12 (tomorrow). During the campaign, 0.4 million children in 66 union councils will be inoculated, he said. Over 1,100 teams from the health department will administer drops to children under the age of five during the door-to-door drive, the deputy commissioner maintained.
A strict strategy will be adopted against those parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. He stated that medicines were being provided without any discrimination at all public hospitals adding that there was no scarcity of medication.
He revealed that a door-to-door service of senior consultants was also being started during the evening at hospitals. Health Chief Executive Officer Dr Munawar Hassan briefed the deputy commissioner.
*Additional input from APP