KARACHI: A five-day national polio immunization drive continued on Tuesday to vaccinate over 40 million children under the age of five across the country.
According to an official of National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI), a supplementary dose of Vitamin A drops are also being administered to children aged six to 59 months during this campaign to build general immunity among susceptible children to protect them from polio and other diseases.
Around 285,000 polio frontline workers are visiting parents and caregivers at their doorsteps, adhering to strict COVID-19 precautionary measures and protocols while vaccinating children. These measures included wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer, and maintaining a safe distance during the vaccination.
“Our aim is to ensure timely and repeated vaccination of children. This is key to reduce the immunity gap and to protect our children against polio and other diseases. The government is committed to reach the goal of a polio-free Pakistan which requires full support of the nation, especially from communities and the parents and caregivers of children under the age of 5 years,” said Dr Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.
The year 2021 presents a unique opportunity to leverage the gains made in 2020. The program implemented six high-quality campaigns in 2020 with the support of various stakeholders and the dedication of our heroes, the frontline workers. The frontline workers defied the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and safely implemented the high-quality campaigns.
“In 2021, we are looking forward to sustaining the gains achieved in 2020. Alongside our plans to conduct quality polio campaigns, we are continuing our efforts to enhance essential immunization coverage across Pakistan. Repeated campaigns are imperative to give a quick immunity boost to children under the age of five,” said Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar, Director General of Health and Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI).
“With our highly committed frontline workers and the cooperation of parents and caregivers, the program aims to restrict the geographic scope of poliovirus circulation to the high-risk areas only and get closer to the goal of eradication in 2021,” Dr Rana added.
The program will continue to sustain high levels of leadership support across the political and society segments, and will further strengthen program implementation structures, engage better with priority communities, reinforce essential immunization, deliver integrated services to communities, and maintain its coordination with Afghanistan counterparts for synergy in planned campaigns in 2021 with the aim of interrupting the spread of poliovirus across the shared epidemiological block between both countries.
It is pertinent to mention that the polio program is working in partnership with various segments of Pakistani society including communities, local influencers, pediatric and medical associations, media, social activists, religious leaders, sports associations and the Pakistan Cricket Board, and many others. They are all supportive of vaccination and the goal of reaching a polio free Pakistan.
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