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Pakistan Launches First Anti-Polio Campaign to Target 44mn Children

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Pakistan Launches First Anti-Polio Campaign to Target 44mn Children

(CTN News) – More than 44 million children under five will get immunizations as part of Pakistan’s first statewide anti-polio campaign of the year.

The three-day campaign began on Monday in more than 150 regions, one of just two nations (the other being Afghanistan) where the crippling neurological illness is still widespread.

Shehbaz Sharif officially launched the campaign in Islamabad on Sunday and gave polio doses to children.

At a gathering in the nation’s capital, Islamabad, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif officially launched the campaign on Sunday and gave polio doses to youngsters.

Sharif said in his statement during the occasion, “I have the confidence that all the province governments together with the federal government would continue to collaborate to eliminate the illness forever.”

According to Sharif, the reappearance of the virus has caused worry among stakeholders, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative states that for a nation to be recognized as polio-free, there must have been no wild poliovirus transmission for at least three years.

According to a representative of the National Emergency Operations Centre, the current countrywide effort is the first since May of last year.

“Due to the flooding, we could not launch a national campaign in August last year.

He stated on the condition of anonymity, “We are now hoping to use more than 350,000 health professionals to deliver not only polio drops but also supplementary vitamin-A supplement.”

33 million people were impacted by the devastating floods that devastated Pakistan last year, which also claimed more than 1,700 lives. Children are among those who have perished from waterborne illnesses brought on by the sluggish floods.

Religious and military organizations in Pakistan have often opposed efforts to eradicate polio, claiming the vaccine campaign is a part of a “Western plan” to sterilize the nation’s young.

Others assert that the vaccinations are not halal because they include pig fat, although authorities have denied these claims.

Over the past ten years, over 100 deaths and many injuries have been related to the polio vaccination program nationwide.

In the most recent incident, four police officers were hurt in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Dera Ismail Khan area on January 5 during a local anti-polio operation.

Following the death of Osama bin Laden, the former head of al-Qaeda, by American forces in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in 2011, resistance to the polio vaccination also became more pronounced in certain regions of Pakistan.

The CIA set up a phony polio vaccination effort in the region to find a bin, Laden.

According to a statement from the prime minister’s office, Pakistan was regrettably one of the few nations where polio infections have returned.

It referred to his older brother, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister, and said that “a few years ago, under his regime, these crimes were fully eliminated.”

Pakistan had only one new incidence of virus in 2021, which gave reason for optimism in the country’s efforts to eradicate the disease.

However, in 2022, that number increased to 20, with each one being discovered in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region in the northwest.

Three instances were discovered in the Lakki Marwat area, while seventeen were discovered in the tribally predominate region of North Waziristan.

Yet to be deemed free of the Wild Poliovirus Type 1 (WPV-1) illness are Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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