LAHORE: The last National Immunisation Drive of the year against polio will start all over Punjab from Monday (today).
It will be a five-day campaign including two days allocated for catch up to reach the missed children. A total of 16.9 million under five children will be vaccinated during the campaign. Punjab has deployed over 156,000 polio workers in the campaign including area-in-charges, district and union council supervisors, mobile team, fixed team members and transit team members.
“Government’s continued engagement with the hardworking polio teams has given fruitful results. Punjab has not reported any polio case for over a year now”, EOC coordinator Sundas Irshad, who heads the polio programme in Punjab, said.
“Environmental samples also indicate a positive epidemiological outlook for polio eradication in Pakistan, and Punjab in particular. All environmental samples in Punjab are negative for the last six months”, the EOC coordinator added. Nationally there has only been one case of wild polio reported this year, compared with 84 at the same time last year.
The programme has achieved similar results in the past, having a low reported case number, but the significant decrease in the virus found in the environment is unique. The current gains of the programme are fragile and can easily be reversed, especially during high transmission season when the virus is especially active.
This is the most critical time for the programme. Reaching and sustaining zero polio cases and transmission requires even greater efforts. “In order to wipe out the virus, we need to continue the momentum in the upcoming campaigns and leave not a single child unvaccinated. To achieve this level of coverage, the community should understand that vaccines are beneficial and safe”, the EOC coordinator observed. Pakistan remains one of the only two countries in the world with circulating wild poliovirus, together with Afghanistan.