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World Polio Day: Anti-Polio drive in Balochistan kicks off Today

To observe the World Polio Day, the government of the province and ECB organized a vaccination campaign for children

Representational image. Wikimedia

Quetta, 24 October, 2016: Syed Faisal Ahmed , the coordinator of Emergency Centre, Balochistan (ECB) said, three-day polio drive starting on Monday across the province have been completed.

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The three-day drive starting on Monday is scheduled to start in Qila Saifullah, Naseerabad, Qila Abdullah, Jaffarabad, Loralai, Pishin, Quetta, Dera Bugti, Sherani, Zhob, and other high-risk areas.

To observe the World Polio Day (October 24), the government of the province and ECB organized a vaccination campaign for children under the age of five so as to vaccinate more than 1.6 million of them.

According to Dawn, Mr. Ahmed said, “Nearly 6,040 teams will be deployed to administer polio drops to children under the age of five.”

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He further added, “5,378 mobile teams, 415 fixed sites and 247 transit points had been established across Balochistan to ensure that all children were inoculated.”

“We have adopted strict security measures to prevent uncertain situations — Frontier Corps (FC), police and the Levis Force will be deployed to protect polio workers,” said Mr Ahmed,

“This year only 15 new polio cases have been reported in Pakistan — out of which only one was from Balochistan.”

“On this World Polio Day, we have to vow to intensify the fight against polio. All parents, civil society, politicians and religious scholars should come forward against this crippling disease,” said Mr Ahmed.

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Sewage samples have been taken from Qila Abdullah, Quetta, and Pishin. The result of the tests were positive for the polio virus, which indicates that although “we have achieved major goals in combating polio; we still have a lot to do to get Pakistan declared a polio-free country”.

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Pakistan Starts A Nationwide Polio Eradication Drive

Pakistan has to contend with extra suspicion of immunization drives because of the 2011 U.S. special forces raid inside the country that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden

Polio vaccination must be a right of every child below the age o 6 years.
A boy receives polio vaccine drops during an anti-polio campaign, in a low-income neighbourhood in Karachi, Pakistan. VOA

Pakistan launched a nationwide polio vaccination drive this week to try to reach 38.7 million children and eradicate the paralyzing and potentially deadly virus in one of the last countries where it is endemic.

Nearly 260,000 volunteers and workers fanned out across Pakistan in an effort to vaccinate every child below the age of five in a week-long campaign, Pakistan’s national coordinator on polio, Mohammad Safdar, said.

“We’re really very close to eradicating the disease,” Safdar told Reuters, appealing to the people to cooperate with the door-to-door effort.

The vaccinators are being provided with a proper kit box for the drive.
A vaccinator with her kit box, waiting for her colleagues at the Polio eradication drive.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, that suffers from endemic polio, a childhood virus that can cause paralysis or death.

In 2018, Pakistan has had just one polio case, reported last month, Safdar said. The number of cases has steadily declined since 2014 when 306 were reported. Last year, there were only eight cases, he said.

Efforts to eradicate the disease have been undermined by opposition from the Taliban and other Islamist militants, who say immunization is a foreign ploy to sterilise Muslim children or a cover for Western spies.

Also Read: Pakistan Faces Daunting Uphill Task Of Deradicalizing Educated Youth

In January, gunmen killed a mother-and-daughter vaccination team working in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, where the year’s only case so far was later reporter.

Three years earlier, 15 people were killed in a bombing by the Pakistani Taliban outside a polio vaccination center in Baluchistan.

Polio teams working on Monday were undeterred.


Polio drops must be given to each and every child till the required age.
A child being provided with the polio drops during the drive.

“Yes we feel threatened, but our work is like this,” said Bilquis Omar, who has served on a mobile vaccination team for the past six years in the southern port metropolis of Karachi.

“We are working for the children,” she said.

Aziz Memon, who heads the Rotary Club’s PolioPlus program that funds many of the immunization teams, said this year the drive was also making a renewed effort to reach migrants who come back and forth from Afghanistan.

“Mission number one is to get to zero cases and eradicate polio,” Memon said.

A country must have no cases for three consecutive years in order to be considered to have eradicated polio by the World Health Organization.

Pakistan has to contend with extra suspicion of immunization drives because of the 2011 U.S. special forces raid inside the country that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, architect of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

A Pakistani doctor was accused of using a fake vaccination campaign to collect DNA samples that the CIA was believed to have been using to verify bin Laden’s identity. The doctor remains jailed in Pakistan, convicted of waging war against state.  VOA


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