ISLAMABAD, Dec 05 (APP):Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) on Saturday said that 98 percent targets have been achieved from the five-day national polio immunization drive.

According to an official of Polio Eradication Initiative, the immunization drive was started on November 30 to vaccinate over 39 million children under the age of five years across the country.

He added around 285,000 polio frontline workers visited house-to-house, observing strict SOPs for COVID-19, to ensure protection of children from the crippling polio virus.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Dr Faisal Sultan said, “The government is committed to make Pakistan Polio-free. We are determined to close the immunity gap in children which had unfortunately widened because of disruption of essential services due to COVID-19 pandemic.”

He said, “Ensuring timely and repeated vaccination of children is critical for us to reduce the immunity gap and protect them against polio.”

Dr Faisal said, “I am confident, together we will achieve our target of making a safer, healthier and polio-free Pakistan for our children.”

During the campaign, the trained polio frontline workers reached every child with essential polio vaccine while adhering to strict COVID-19 standard operating procedures such as wearing mask, using hand sanitizer, and maintaining at least minimum distance during vaccination.

“While continuing our efforts to enhance essential immunization coverage across, the back-to-back planned immunization campaigns are imperative to give quick immunity boost to children under the age of five,” said Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI).

“We need to ensure that no child is missed during this critical national immunization campaign aimed to build on successful immunity building efforts during last three months.”

Rana Safdar said that all segments of society including communities, media, religious leaders, social activists, celebrities and doctors should play active role so that no child remains at risk of contracting polio disease and getting paralyzed for life.

He said that Pakistan was one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan. The country is facing a challenging situation in polio eradication with the upsurge of the number of polio cases.

He added so far in current year, a total of 82 polio cases have been reported including 24 from Balochistan, 22 each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, and 14 from Punjab.
He said that Polio was a highly infectious disease caused by polio-virus mainly affecting children under the age of five years.

It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease.

He said that each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased while repeated immunizations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio free.