A supplementary dose of Vitamin A will also be administered in the five-day campaign
ISLAMABAD, 17 September 2021 – The third nationwide polio campaign for 2021 will kick off in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on 17 September and on 20 September, for the rest of the Nation. Over 40 million children under five years of age will be vaccinated with the polio vaccine, along with a supplementary dose of Vitamin A capsule during the campaign.
More than 290 000 Sehat Tahafuz frontline workers will go house to house for vaccination to protect children from lifelong paralysis caused by the polio virus. Research also shows approximately 50% of all children are vitamin-A deficient in Pakistan, so a supplementary dose of Vitamin A will be included providing protection against various infections and diseases like diarrhoea, pneumonia, measles, and night blindness.
“The programme has made significant gains with not a single case being reported for seven months, giving us a unique opportunity to achieve polio eradication. Now is the time to re-double our efforts and ensure we reach every eligible child with the polio vaccine to solidify this progress. Parents should open their door to frontline workers and vaccinate their children to make way for a polio-free Pakistan,” said Dr. Faisal Sultan, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Health. Dr. Sultan went on to state, “As an indication of how high a priority polio eradication is, the Prime Minister recently met with the District Commissioners of the twenty highest risk Districts and directed them to personally double their efforts to eradicate polio, and we expect to see the results of that meeting in this upcoming campaign.”
Pakistan remains one of only two countries in the world with circulating wild poliovirus, together with Afghanistan. Wild poliovirus has been eradicated in all other countries, attesting to the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
“The upcoming campaign is vital for the programme and Pakistan’s ability to achieve polio eradication,” said Dr. Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative. “We are currently going into the high transmission season during which the virus is especially active and need to ensure protection of all our children with the vaccine. It is essential to vaccinate every child in the upcoming campaign, especially the new-borns and infants.”
“We must emphasize that caregivers prioritise routine immunisation of children and visit health facilities as per the schedule. Our aim is to immunise all children against vaccine-preventable diseases to protect them from life-threatening diseases,” he added.
Pakistan has made substantial progress towards polio eradication, with only one wild poliovirus case reported in 2021 compared to 75 cases at the same time last year. The significant reduction in cases is supported by a decrease in positive environmental samples from 55% to 12%, highlighting that poliovirus is less active in the country. This is one of the lowest levels of detected wild poliovirus in the history of the country. It is vital that this opportunity to finally eradicate polio from Pakistan is seized. We must not be complacent and now is the time to further intensify our national effort to dive polio out of Pakistan once and for all.
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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