Pakistan

Renowned pediatricians pledge their support to promote polio vaccination

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ISLAMABAD, 18 September 2020 – Senior local health organisations of the country have vowed their full support to the Government in its efforts to end-polio from Pakistan. The office bearers of Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA), Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) confirmed their support to promote polio vaccination, including routine immunisation in a virtual roundtable meeting organised by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio Eradication.

The purpose of the meeting was to share the present Polio situation in the country and explore ways to tackle ongoing challenges, including the promotion of vaccine acceptance among parents and caregivers. Chaired by Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, the meeting was attended by the President and senior leaders of the Pakistan Pediatric Association and its provincial chapters, Pakistan Medical Association, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and Prof. Dr. Iqbal Ahmad Memon, member of the National Technical Advisory Group for Polio Eradication.

Dr. Safdar briefed the participants about various ongoing initiatives to curb polio from the country including activities to address the negative community perceptions about polio-vaccination interventions. He called upon the leading Pakistani pediatricians to work as positive voices for the programme in support of eradicating polio. He specifically highlighted the role of pediatricians in addressing parents’ concerns and helping reduce refusals.

“Our pediatricians play a big role in convincing parents, especially in marginalised populations, to vaccinate their children. The refusal of polio vaccination will bring no fortune but more deprivation to the child and family and needs to be avoided at all costs,” added Dr. Rana.

Participants also discussed a broad range of issues including social vaccine acceptancy, addressing general perception about the vaccine, restoring confidence in the polio workers, the introduction of mandatory use of vaccine certificate link to Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC), engagement of family physicians and synergy and effective coordination between Afghanistan and Pakistan to implement campaigns.

Prof. Dr. Iqbal Ahmad Memon, a renowned pediatrician from Karachi and the National Technical Advisory Group member, appreciated the Pakistan Polio Eradication programme’s efforts. “I appreciate that the programme has managed to procure polio vaccine to conduct a nationwide campaign amidst COVID-19 related global supply chains challenges. With strong involvement of pediatricians across Pakistan including family physicians and doctors running private clinics, I am confident that there will be a significant increase in vaccine acceptance and demand for vaccination,” said Dr. Memon.

Dr. Shafiq Rehman, from the NEOC, presented the situation of polio in the country. The meeting was attended by Dr. Ghulam Rasool Buriro – President PPA Sindh, Dr. Saleem Paryani – President PPA Karachi, Dr. Ashraf Nizami – President PMA Punjab, Professor Dr. Masood Sadiq – President PPA, Punjab and Dr. Bawar Shah – Secretary PPA Central among others.

The Pakistan Polio Eradication programme will conduct its first National Polio campaign from 21 September after a suspension of four months due to COVID-19, with aim of reaching 40 million under five year of age children. Subsequently, other national and sub-national campaigns will be conducted in coming months to reach under five years of old children to interrupt the poliovirus circulation. These campaigns are intensifying efforts in view of a polio-free country and the world for future generations.

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Note to Editors:

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of ten 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 immunizations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio free.

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For further information, please contact:

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

Email: zababakhel@gmail.com