ISLAMABAD The countrys first national polio drive to be held under the new National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication was launched here Saturday by Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan. Dr Awan administered anti-polio drops to a few children in a ceremony held at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad. The three-day house-to-house anti-polio campaign will be held across Pakistan from March 7 to 9, 2011. Speaking on the occasion, this was the mission of Benazir Bhutto who held the cause of childrens health and wellbeing as of paramount importance to the development and progress of any nation. She added this campaign is of vital importance as it is being held soon after the launch of the National Emergency Action Plan on Polio Eradication. This plan was approved by the Prime Minister in January this year where after the plan was launched by President Asif Ali Zardari. The minister appealed to all health workers and volunteers to leave no stone unturned in reaching every child under 5 years of age. She also requested parents to make sure that all their children under 5 years of age receive the polio vaccine during the three-day campaign. Addressing the gathering, Federal Secretary Health, Nargis Sethi said the upsurge of polio during last year was a direct result of inaccessibility of the polio teams in areas of the country and unprecedented floods that wreaked havoc across the country destroying health-care infrastructure. She emphasised that concerted efforts are urgently needed from all levels to overcome the remaining challenges, which stand in the way of eradicating polio. Evidence shows that the quality of immunisation activities can improve dramatically when district management take ownership of immunisation programmes and personally monitor progress, she added. Dr Guido Sabatinelli from WHO and Mr Dennis King from UNICEF also spoke on the occasion and pledged all-out support to the government in its efforts to wipe out polio. Earlier, Dr Altaf Bosan, Country Head of Polio Eradication Initiative, in his briefing informed that 88,000 teams have been constituted for this campaign. 15,822 Area Incharges and 2,777 Zonal Supervisors will supervise the campaign. WHO Campaign Support Officers and UNICEF Communication Support Officers are supporting the campaign activities in the districts. DCOs are leading the campaign in their districts. This year, so far, the country has reported 13 cases of polio including 9 cases from FATA, 1 case from KPK, 2 from Sindh and 1 from Balochistan. Meanwhile, District Health Department of ICT Administration has finalised all necessary arrangements for launching three-day anti-polio drive in the rural areas of capital starting from Monday. Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Amer Ali Ahmed has said that the administration had divided the rural areas into 11 zones for the purpose of anti-polio drive. He said that 255 mobile teams had been constituted to administer anti-polio drops to over 100,805 children in the far-flung rural areas of capital and door-to-door coverage against polio. Mobile teams have been strictly directed to cover each remote area.