Polio outbreak response campaign launched

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ISLAMABAD: A crucial polio campaign to immunize more than 8.8 million children under the age of five against the paralyzing poliovirus has begun in 26 districts from Monday.

This polio outbreak response campaign is being held in 11 districts of Balochistan, seven districts of Sindh and five districts of Punjab after the detection of polio cases in Dera Bugti and Chaman and the detection of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) in sewage samples of several districts of these provinces.

Urging parents to vaccinate their children, Federal Secretary for Health Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said, “Protecting children from incurable polio is a top priority for the government, which is why in response to virus detections, we are deploying polio teams during Ramadan to vaccinate children and keep their immunity against polio high.”

He added, “Poliovirus can leave your child paralyzed for life and it is critical for children to have the immunity to fight off infection.”

He said, “I urge all parents in these districts ” where the virus has been found to open your door to vaccinators and ensure that your children receive two drops of this essential vaccine.”

Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator for the National Emergency Operations Center for Polio Eradication, said that WPV1 has been detected in 71 environmental samples so far this year, mostly in Balochistan and Sindh, and has paralyzed two children in Balochistan.

“This vaccination campaign is specifically being held in districts where there have been virus detections ahead of the high travel season of Eid to prevent any further spread of the virus as people travel for the holidays.

Read More: Pakistan reports second polio case of 2024

He said that the Polio Programme has a rapid response system in place and has already conducted two nationwide campaigns in January and February, while following this campaign, another vaccination drive is planned at the end of April.

Earlier on March 21, it was reported that polio virus has been found in sewerage of the major cities of Pakistan.

According to a technical report of polio-positive sewerage samples compiled by the NIH, the virus of crippling disease was found in nine sewerage samples of five cities of Pakistan including, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Chaman and Mastung.

It is to be noted that Pakistan has reported two polio virus cases this year so far.

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