Health Minister inaugurates province wide polio drive

KARACHI:Minister for Health and Population Welfare Sindh, Dr Azra Pechuho inaugurated a province-wide polio campaign at the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC). The Parliamentary Secretary of Health in Sindh Assembly, Qasim Siraj Soomro and Secretary Health, Sindh, Dr Kazim Jatoi were also present at the inauguration. The campaign is part of the national immunization days, to give oral polio drops to around nine million children under 5-year across the province.
The campaign will be conducted in all 30 districts of Sindh. Out of the 9 million children to be given oral polio drops, approximately 2 million reside in Karachi. The campaign will be conducted whilst following strict WHO recommended COVID prevention protocols which include the wearing of masks by workers, their temperatures being checked before deployment, not handling children directly, not entering houses, spending limited time with families and knocking on doors with pens, rulers or elbows rather than hands.
The EOC Sindh spokesperson while talking to PPI said that as a result of the pandemic the gap in campaigns from March to July coupled with routine immunization being affected left an immunity gap in children which we have been addressing through back-to-back monthly polio campaigns since August 2020.
Thanks to these campaigns Sindh has not reported a single case of polio since July 2020 and a number of environment samples are also now showing negative. If we continue with the same momentum we will further see significant results but we must not get complacent and continue the hard work, said the spokesperson.
While we deal with the pandemic, we must also deal with childhood immunization to prevent childhood diseases, the benefits of vaccination are clear as frequent campaigns have significantly reduced the burden of polio across the country, he said.
Children can be saved from childhood diseases like polio through vaccination and we seek the media’s help to raise awareness regarding this. Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan and has so far reported a total of one polio case in 2021, he added.
The Pakistan Pediatric Association, Pakistan Medical Islamic Medical Association, medical experts across the world, as well as prominent scholars in Pakistan, and across the region endorsed the oral polio vaccine as the safest and most effective for not only preventing polio but also eradicating it from the environment, the spokesman concluded.
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