PESHAWAR: The first three-day polio vaccination campaign of 2019 will begin in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tomorrow (Monday), the provincial health department said.

About 6.7 million children below the age of five years will be administered anti-polio vaccine during the campaign. More than 31,000 teams have been constituted for the purpose which will visit door-to-door to administer anti-polio drops to children. The health department said over 30,000 security personnel have been deputed for security of polio teams.

On Friday, a meeting was held with Coordinator Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Captain (Retd) Kamran Khan Afridi in the chair which reviewed overall arrangements for the campaign. Director Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI) Dr Akram Shah, UNICEF Team Leader Dr Muhammad Johar Focal Person BMG Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah, Team Leader WHO Dr Abadi and other officers attended the meeting.

The meeting decided to arrange the vaccination drive in 12 Afghan refugees and displaced persons’ camps.

Bajaur district, where the last two polio cases were detected, is ready to eliminate the virus from the district, said Deputy Commissioner Bajaur Usman Mehsud while briefing the media persons about preparation for the three-day anti-polio drive.

“The administration is committed to get rid the district of polio disease forever,” claimed Mehsud.

In a jolt for the vaccination campaign, the paramedical association has announced to boycott the drive in KP over the government’s inaction to meet their demands.

Talking to media on Friday, president of the association Rashid Bukhari said that the government of KP has showed no interest to fulfil their demands, therefore, they have decided to boycott the upcoming anti polio campaign in Kohat district.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where polio is categorised is endemic viral infection. Vaccination efforts in these countries are often hampered due to refusal of parents or threats from militants. Although the situation in Pakistan has improved considerably during the last few years after military operations and now almost all areas are covered by the vaccination teams. However, the country is still struggling to realise the dream of polio-free Pakistan.

Despite difficult circumstances, Pakistani officials are hopeful to completely eradicate polio from the country in the year 2019. In 2014, 306 polio cases were reported in Pakistan, while in 2018, the number has been brought down to nine cases, which is a marked improvement.


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