More than 23 million children to receive polio vaccination in 68 districts

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ISLAMABAD, 29 July 2021 – The Sub-National Immunisation Days (SNIDs) campaign will kick off on 2 August to reach more than 23.6 million children in 68 districts of all four provinces, including the federal capital Islamabad.

Approximately 179,000 frontline polio workers will go house to house, observing strict standard operating procedures for COVID-19, to ensure children's protection from the crippling poliovirus.

"Pakistan has made significant progress over the past months and with the declining polio cases it is important to continue with full force. We need to ensure all eligible children are vaccinated during each campaign to build up their immunity. I urge all parents to welcome the polio teams and accept the polio drops," said Dr Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health.

Dr Faisal Sultan inaugurated the SNIDs campaign today at the National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) attended by Dr. Rana Safdar, Director General, Health, Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, Dr Shahzad Baig, National Coordinator, Polio Programme, among others.

"The current gains of the programme are fragile and can easily be reversed, especially during high transmission season when the virus is especially active. This is the most critical time for the programme," said Dr. Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme. He urged the frontline workers and all stakeholders to continue their hard work.

"Immunisation is a right of every child, and it is the safest way to ensure good health of children. Parents and caregivers should play their role to ensure vaccination during the campaign," said Dr. Shahzad. He appealed to the parents to cooperate with the visiting frontline workers.

The declining trend of reported polio cases and negative environmental samples indicate a positive epidemiological outlook for polio eradication in Pakistan. As of 29 July, there has only been one case of wild polio reported this year, compared with 66 at the same time last year. The number of positive environmental samples has decreased.

The toll-free Helpline 1166 and 24/7 WhatsApp Polio Helpline 0346-777-65-46 assist parents and caregivers by providing information about vaccines and campaign information.

Note for the Editor:

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free. Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan.

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For further information, please contact:

Mr. Zulfiqar Babakhel, Media Manager, NEOC, 0345-9165937