*Pakistan intensifies efforts for protecting children against risk of Polio and lifelong paralysis*
Over 40 million children will be vaccinated against polio in a nationwide door-to-door vaccination campaign starting on 29 March.
ISLAMABAD: Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, launched a five-day national polio immunisation drive in Islamabad. The campaign will start from 29 March to vaccinate over 40 million children under the age of five. Around 285,000 frontline workers, respecting COVID-19 safety protocols, will go door-to-door in all 156 districts across Pakistan to give polio drops. The campaign aims to raise the immunity of children that remain at risk of the crippling disease.
“COVID-19 continues to challenge us, but we are committed to ensure continuity of the essential public health services during these difficult times. It is an absolute must that all our eligible children stay protected against vaccine preventable diseases including polio. Our 280,000 valiant Sehat Muhafiz frontline workers will knock on every door to vaccinate all eligible children in every corner of Pakistan. It’s every Pakistani’s national duty to ensure that your own children, as well as those around you, are administered Polio vaccine without fail,” said Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.
The year 2021 presents a unique opportunity to leverage the gains made in 2020, despite the challenges of the pandemic. With the cooperation of the public, community leaders, parents and committed frontline workers the programme has successfully and safely implemented six campaigns in 2020. Frontline workers and programme staff have been diligently trained to adhere to COVID-19 precautionary measures, keeping communities and themselves safe from the virus.
“We have started witnessing the impact of our hard work over the last six months in terms of improved epidemiology. This is reflected by the declining polio cases and decreased detection of viruses in sewage samples. I commend our frontline workers for their amazing commitment and urge further intensifying pressure on the virus by vaccinating every child during the upcoming campaign. It is critical that we sustain our progress to achieve eradication,” said Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI).
Immunisation saves millions of lives and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. Yet, Pakistan has many unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children, putting them at serious risk of these potentially fatal diseases. Polio campaigns are imperative to give quick immunity boost to children under the age of five. Alongside holding the back-to-back planned polio immunisation campaigns, the programme strives to enhance essential immunisation coverage across Pakistan.