Health

Pakistan launches vaccination drive to rebuild immunity against polio

Launching
Islamabad, – Pakistan on Thursday launched a vaccination campaign against polio to protect tens of thousands of children from the crippling disease after months of suspension due to coronavirus outbreak.

The campaign to vaccinate 34 million children under the age of five in 130 districts of the country is scheduled to last until Aug. 21.

According to an official, more than 188,000 health workers will participate in the campaign

The official added that vaccinators would go door-to-door to administer an oral polio vaccine and Vitamin A supplements to build immunity amongst susceptible children.

At least 40 million children had missed the periodic vaccinations from March to July due to coronavirus lockdown.

Pakistan launched a polio eradication programme in 1994 and the country came very close to eliminating the disease, but recorded 147 new cases, a five-year high, amid vaccine boycotts and attacks on health workers in 2019.

According to the survey carried out by the government, in 2020, cases count has so far reached 64.

Pakistan’s anti-polio drives have often run into trouble due to attacks on the teams administering the vaccine and campaigns against the treatment.

Polio cases peaked at 306 in 2014, the year an offensive against the Taliban began, but there had been a sharp reduction since.

According to official statistics, the case count fell to 54 in 2015 and stood at 20 or less the following three years.

The UN-funded drive to vaccinate children faces opposition from Islamist militants and religious conservatives who believe the vaccine, administered in multiple rounds, is intended to make Muslim children sterile.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are among a handful of countries where polio is still prevalent.(dpa/NAN)

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