Islamabad - Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) on Monday launched the countrywide anti-polio campaign aimed to immunize above 23million children of aged five, said an official. The statement issued said that polio vaccination campaign aims to reach 23.8 million children of aged 5 years in next five days.

While 161,000 frontline workers will be going “door-to-door” over the next five days to reach every child with two drops of the safe and effective vaccine, according to the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio Eradication.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq said that meticulous planning has been put into this campaign to ensure that Pakistan finally rids its borders of this crippling disease and keep its children safe.

“Oral polio vaccine will be delivered door-to-door to millions of children,” she said

The focal person of program said that implementing successful immunization campaigns have helped Pakistan lower the number of cases to the lowest level ever. Success will depend on every campaign organizer and worker to parents and caregivers who must ensure every child under five receives the two drops of the vaccine, she added.

Since 2014 there has been an overall 97% reduction in polio cases in Pakistan, from 306 cases in 2014 to 8 in 2017. This year one polio case has been reported. The national polio eradication program continues to address any remaining gaps to achieve high population immunity in core poliovirus reservoirs including Karachi, Quetta Block and Peshawar, while keeping children safe from polio throughout the country.

She also said that the oral polio vaccine is safe and effective and has been used to eradicate polio in almost every country in the world and while drug regulatory authorities have approved the vaccine, which is stringently prepared according to international specifications.

NEOC Coordinator Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar said that multiple doses of polio vaccine are required for a child to be fully protected – sometimes more than ten. Each additional dose further strengthens a child’s immunity level against polio.

He said that parents who do not ensure vaccination of their children are risking health and lives of their own children as well as others around them.

“As long as the virus is being detected anywhere in the country, no child is safe from being infected. Any child with low immunity will be where the virus will find refuge,” said Rana Safdar.

Separately, ministry also started a training program of for drug officers with the help of international experts for the development of Pharmacovigilance (PV) in the country.

Pharmacovigilance (PV) is the practice of monitoring the effects of medical drugs after they have been licensed for use, especially in order to identify and evaluate previously unreported adverse reactions.

The statement issued said that a training program named “Training of Trainers, Pharmacovigilance (PV) Development of Pakistan” has started in Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP), ministry of NHS by the experts from United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) with the aim to train the DRAP officers.

Focal persons from Shifa International, Islamabad, ShaukatKhanum Hospital Lahore,  and Agha Khan University Hospital, Karachi will be also trained to develop Pharmacovigilance Center in DRAP. The first target is to attain the full membership of WHO Pharmacovigilance (PV) Center at Upssala, Sweden.

CEO, DRAP Sheikh Akhtar Hussain in his opening remarks welcomed Dr. Souly Phanouvong and Dr. Rachida Soulaymani, international experts on PV and all participants from provincial Drug Control Units and Public Health Programs.

He apprised the participants that with the promulgation of DRAP Act in 2012, PV section was developed in Division of Pharmacy Services, which is evident that the DRAP accords highest priority to the access of highest quality, safety and efficacy of therapeutic goods at affordable prices.