KARACHI - The Sindh Health Department has launched three-day anti-polio campaign on Monday. Minister for Health Dr Azra Fazal Pehchuho inaugurated the last polio campaign of year 2018 that last through the rest of Sindh.

The total target population for this campaign is approximately 8.9 million children under 5 years of age out of which approximately 2.3 million children reside in the metropolis of Karachi.

More than 50,000 front line workers will take part in this campaign, this includes team members and area in charges. In Karachi alone there are more than 9000 community health workers supported by 2300 plus area in-charges who will go door to door to give polio drops to children.

They will be given security cover by approximately 5000 law enforcement agency personnel. The province has, earlier, reported just 1 polio case in 2018 which is from Gadap in Karachi. This is in compared to 2 in 2017, 8 in 2016, 12 in 2015 and 30 in 2014.

Coordinator EOC Sindh Mr. Umer Farooq Bullo said that “The district polio control rooms, health officials of the government of Sindh and polio teams have done job to bring the case countdown but our goal is to reach zero hence we must continue to work hard and focus on the areas where the virus springs up such as UC 4 Gadap. We have established a model EPI center in this area to increase routine immunization and will implement other programs there in order improve health care delivery for its residents.”

There has been a 99% reduction on polio cases across the country since 2014 and the total case count for Pakistan in 2018 is 8, in 2017 it was 8, in 2016 it was 20, in 2015 it was 54 and in 2014 it was 306.

Coordinator EOC Sindh Mr. Bullo said that “we have reduced cases through intensive polio drives but we are facing refusals because of repeated vaccination, we would like to take this opportunity to inform the masses that repeated vaccination is necessary for polio eradication and to ensure children are safe from polio. We request parents to cooperate with polio teams and secure the future of their own children by giving them two drops of the polio vaccine.”

The Pakistan Pediatric Association and medical experts recommend that every child must take two drops of the vaccine every time it is offered. In order to save their children from polio, parents must vaccinate them with two drops of the polio vaccine during every campaign.

Meanwhile religious scholars from all sects of Islam too have endorsed the polio programme and given fatwas asking the masses to vaccinate their children to protect them from life long disability.

The creation of the Emergency Operation Centers in the provinces have gone a long way to improve the polio programme as all partners involved in polio eradication work as one team and sit under one roof. In Karachi, the community based vaccination initiative is bearing fruit as educated women that are local to the neighbourhood they work in are leading vaccination drives.