Countrywide anti-polio drive to start from Monday

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ISLAMABAD: A three-day national polio immunisation campaign is set to begin in the federal capital and other parts of the country from Monday (tomorrow).

Thousands of teams have been formed for the drive against the crippling disease with hopes to eliminate the virus this year, official sources said.

According to a Unicef health official, there was an at least 85 per cent reduction in polio cases recorded in 2015 and with this kind of progress, Pakistan can be declared a non-epidemic country for polio virus this year.

The year 2014 was a difficult year for health authorities as Pakistan recorded 305 cases of polio. An official of Polio Emergency Operation Center (EOC) Fata told media recently that in 2015, only 16,000 children missed immunisation in the country – highly commendable if compared to the figures in 2014.

Related: *Pakistan, Afghanistan need extra efforts to eradicate polio

Around 292,000 children from Khyber Agency, North Waziristan and South Waziristan missed immunisation in 2014 due to inaccessibility to these areas.

Polio vaccination has always remained a challenge for health officials in the country for they have to convince parents, who are sometimes reluctant because of their conservative views.

A district health official in Rawalpindi, Dr Arshad Ali Sabir told APP that special attention would be given to the coverage of children during the latest campaign.

Special counters would be established at public parks, railway stations, bus and wagon stands, airports and transit points to administer anti-polio drops to children to ensure that no child is left without the vaccine.

Security measures in Karachi

Sindh Inspector General Police Ghulam Hyder Jamali issued instructions to provide comprehensive security cover to anti-polio teams in Karachi.

The IGP directed deployment of police commandos with polio teams especially in categorised/identified sensitive union councils.

According to a comprehensive report compiled by AIG Operations Sindh, Ghayasuddin Rashidi, almost 5,000 police personnel drawn from Sindh Reserve Police, Counter Terrorism Department, Sindh Crime Branch, Anti-Encroachment Cell, Shaheed Benazirabad Elite Police Training School Razaqabad, and Police Training College Saeedabad/RTC Hyderabad, Jam Nawaz and PTC Shahdadpur will perform security duties in addition to the existing force of Karachi Police.

Karachi Police has deputed around 7,000 police personnel, 410 vehicles and 240 motorcycles for the anti-polio campaign.

According to the Sindh Police spokesman, such measures are being taken to provide foolproof security to health workers, doctors, other staff and children/families, particularly in areas of sensitive union councils, during the campaign.

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