Islamabad-The nationwide door to door polio vaccination campaign to immunize more than 38 million children kicked off on Monday said the statement. Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) in a statement issued said that Pakistan has started the last nationwide door to door Polio vaccination campaign of the year from 10th December.  During this campaign, over 270,000 frontline workers will go door to door to ensure 38.7 million children aged 0 – 5 years receive polio vaccine that will protect them against the polio virus. It also said that despite this significant achievement, the cunning polio virus has been able to find a way for its survival. During the month of November, the sewage water samples collected from Karachi, Sukkur, Peshawar, Mardan, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad tested positive for the polio virus.

The genetic analysis reports from the Polio Virology Laboratory at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad further confirmed that the virus was able to take the road from current hotspots within the country and in Afghanistan, posing risks for under immunized children residing elsewhere, the statement said. It stated that since the beginning of the year, eight cases of wild polio virus have been reported in the country including three from Dukki district in Balochistan, one from Charsada in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one from Gadap, Karachi, one from Khyber and two cases from Bajaur tribal districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “This indicates an overall 97 percent decrease in the number of annual polio cases from the highs of 306 reported in 2014,” statement said. The National Coordinator for Polio eradication Dr Rana Safdar said that low temperatures are the best time to hit the virus. Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Programme is fully committed to using upcoming campaigns over the next few months as the opportunity to stop the virus circulation once and for all.  He said the deployment of staff across critical areas of the country will guarantee that each and every child is administered the required two drops of the oral polio vaccine that not only protects children from contracting the virus, but also prevents them from carrying the virus in their intestines.  The National Emergency Operations Centre has further clarified for parents that all children vaccinated in routine as well as in previous campaigns must also be administered oral polio vaccine in future campaigns.

 “Every additional dose puts another circle of protection around children who might be vulnerable due to insufficient immunity, especially in areas with poor nutrition and sanitation challenges”, the press release stated. Pakistan along with Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world that have reported wild polio virus cases in 2018. The December campaign is synchronized in both countries in an attempt to minimize the risk of missing children on the move.

According to the Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Babar Bin Atta, “The battle is very much on and it is absolutely critical that parents ensure that all their children under the age of five are vaccinated during the polio vaccination campaigns. I would urge every Pakistani to assume the role of a Sehat Muhafiz and ensure that no child is left unvaccinated in his own house or in the neighborhood”.