With renewed vigour and determination, nearly 10,200 teams of polio vaccinators will resume their campaign against the crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease across the province on July 2 and July 3.
Talking to The Express Tribune, public health director Dr Masood Solangi said the campaign is called ‘Micro Plan Polio Campaign’. In Karachi, 57 UCs were declared highly vulnerable for polio workers and these areas, therefore, would not be covered during the campaign. The areas include Gadap and Baldia towns, and other tribal belts in the city. To achieve their target, the health director has formed 8,493 mobile teams to drop off workers and volunteers at 766 transit points, he added. Repeated threats and recent attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban and other terrorist groups have failed to dampen the spirits of the government officials and the vaccinators working towards the eradication of the menace. In the wake of an attack on a polio team in Baldia Town on April 16, the provincial health department had decided to suspend the drive and reschedule it when foolproof security was available.
Sindh Expanded Programme on Immunisation’s head Dr Mazhar Khamisani said the health department had assured complete security to them for the drive. “Many Pashtun-dominated areas of Karachi are highly affected by the deadly virus but, at the same time, they are volatile for polio workers,” said Dr Khamisani. Interior Sindh posed no threats, however, in Karachi, some parts were risky, and they would initiate a campaign with the help of law-enforcement agencies, he said. Conducting the campaign peacefully was a big challenge for the government as in the recent attacks on polio teams, six vaccinators had been shot dead, he added.
“Polio is a highly infectious disease. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis within a matter of hours. The virus enters the body through mouth and multiplies in the intestine. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs,” an official of the World Health Organisation informed.
“There is no cure for polio. It can only be prevented. The vaccine can protect the life of a child,” the official added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2013.