LAHORE: The first polio eradication drive of the year is all set to begin from January 21. The campaign will continue till January 25.
More than 48,000 teams have been formed to administer the vaccine to 19 million children in Punjab.
Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has directed officials concerned to complete preparations by tomorrow (Sunday). “The Punjab government wants to make sure that the virus is fully eliminated by the end of 2019.”
Punjab Emergency Operation Coordinator for polio eradication Dr Munir Ahmed said Pakistan is very close to eradicating polio from the country and keeping polio cases down to one in almost three years in Punjab is a great achievement. “However, consistent positive environment samples found in Rawalpindi and Lahore indicate that children are still at risk from the crippling virus. We will not relax until polio is eradicated from the country.”
The provincial emergency operations centre has formed over 48,000 teams who will visit door-to-door or stand at major crossing and fixed points to vaccinate over 19.1 million children under the age of five in the province, he said. The emergency operations centre has activated social media accounts and set up a helpline to receive complaints regarding the polio eradication campaign.
Parents may contact helpline 0800-99000 or post their comments at @PakFightsPolio and @polioeradicationinitiative, if polio teams do not turn up in their areas.
Ahead of the campaign, Dr Ahmed assured parents that the polio vaccine was safe, efficacious, and approved by the government’s drug regulatory authorities. He emphasised the need for all children to be immunised during every round of the immunisation campaign.
Punjab completed 2016 without a polio case, but a four-month child from Lodhran ended the province’s 14-month streak without a case in 2017. In 2018, no polio case has been reported in Punjab. This, polio paralysed 10 children in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the tribal districts and Karachi. Globally, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria are the three countries that have polio cases.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2019.