Polio drives were delayed in several districts due to harsh weather – Pakistan



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Ikram Junaidi

ISLAMABAD: The first national polio campaign in 2019, scheduled for Monday, was postponed completely in 21 districts and partly in 14 districts due to adverse weather conditions.

According to a press release issued by the National Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Islamabad, the campaign was suspended in 21 districts – one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, five in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, four in Gilgit-Baltistan, nine in Sindh and each respectively in Punjab and Islamabad.

According to the details shared by the EOC, the districts where the campaign was completely postponed were: Chitral at KP; Bagh, Poonch, Sadnuti, Haveli and Neelam at AJK; Astore, Ghizer, Hunza, and Nagar in GB; Shikarpur, Naushahro Feroze, Mirpurkhas, Shaheed Benazirabad, Qambar, Jacobabad, Matiari, Hyderabad and Tando Allahyar in Sindh; Rawalpindi in Punjab, and Islamabad.

This campaign was partially delayed in 14 districts. They are: Mansehra, Abbottabad, Upper Dir, Swat and Lakki Marwat at KP; Jhelum Valley in AJK; Sohbat Pur in Balochistan; Skardu in GB; and Sanghar, Thatta, Badin, Kashmore, Sukkur and Umerkot in Sindh.

EOC Coordinator, Dr. Rana Mohammad Safdar has praised the commitment of frontline workers to dare to face all obstacles and reach the maximum number of children in this critical national campaign.

"The National EOC coordinating with provinces and districts is tracking campaign progress throughout the country. Door-to-door vaccination campaigns in all suspended districts will be carried out as soon as the weather improves, "he said.

An polio eradication program official, who asked not to be quoted, said that it was unfortunate that the campaign had been launched despite estimates of rain and snow.

It is important to mention that polio is a highly contagious disease caused by the polio virus which mainly affects children under the age of five. It attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. Although there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this disabling disease.

Every time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus increases. Repeated immunization has protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to be polio free.

In 2018, 12 cases of wild polio virus were reported in the country – three from Duki district in Balochistan, one from Charsadda, one from Lakki Marwat at KP, one from Gadap, Karachi, one from Khyber and five from the Bajaur district KP tribe .

This shows an overall decline of 97 percent in the number of annual polio cases from the highest of 306 reported in 2014.

Despite this significant achievement, the polio virus has been able to find ways to survive. During December, wastewater samples collected from Karachi, Peshawar, Bannu, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Qilla Abdullah, Pishin and Quetta were declared positive for the polio virus.

Published at Fajar, January 22, 2019

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