HomeNewsDiplomatic NewsPolio eradication in Pakistan through sustained government efforts

Polio eradication in Pakistan through sustained government efforts


Islamabad, 14 February 2024 (TDI): Pakistan has made significant developments in polio eradication from the country through sustained government efforts at a wide scale.

Canada announced in 2016 that it was on the path toward assisting Pakistan in eradicating the polio virus by providing medical aid of $40 million, over the next three years.

The Canadian Government notes that it will strengthen the Pakistani community through support for polio eradication, voice awareness, and support recruitment and training for a community–based vaccinators project, which is implemented by UNICEF.

While the World Health Organization would solidify supplementary immunization operations, campaign and post campaign monitoring, surveillance and monitoring efforts to detect and track polio.

Today, Pakistan has limited the number of polio cases, however, there still have been reemergence’s in some parts of Southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) which raises concerns amongst people.

Progress on Polio eradication in Pakistan

According to the High Commissioner of Canada to Pakistan, Heather Cruden, the polio virus can only be eliminated if efforts are put together and resources are combined. The virus also has the potential to spread beyond borders regardless of people’s ethnicity, culture or race.

While recognizing the commitment by Canada, Honorable Minister Saira Tara said Pakistan is close to eradicating polio.

She further noted that the Government of Canada has been a long – standing supporter of Pakistan and that their leadership will make sure that this “crippling disease” will free the children of Pakistan.

The first nationwide polio campaign of 2024 took place to safeguard children from paralytic polio. More than 44.3 million children under the age of five will receive the oral polio drops. Also, vaccination teams have vaccinated children in Lakki Marwat, Upper, and Lower South Waziristan.

Furthermore, more than 400,000 vaccinators will be present to vaccinate children at their doorstep. Vaccination will take place amongst children throughout various provinces.

The vaccination campaign aims to target 22.6 million children in Punjab, 10.3 million children in Sindh, and 7.5 million children in KPK. The initiative includes 2.6 million children in Balochistan.

In addition, 0.72 million children in Azad Jammu and Kashmir are part of the initiative. Besides, 0.28 million children in Gilgit-Baltistan, and 0.42 million children in Islamabad are included as well.

Dr. Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Center for Polio Eradication stressed that polio has no cure. It is a devastating disease that affects not just individual children but also changes the lives of the whole family.

He further stated, “The polio vaccine offers protection from this disease.” So, he urged parents and caregivers countrywide to take every opportunity they get of vaccinating their children against polio.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Interfaith Harmony, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi also asserted that the government of Pakistan is on the trajectory to eliminate polio by the end of 2024.

Also Read: Japan announces $3.62 million to support Pakistan Polio Program

Reemergence of Polio in Pakistan

According to a study published in 2023, the number of immunized children in Peshawar is at 80.7 pc, which is lower than 50 pc of other districts of Pakistan. Only 60 percent of children receive three doses of OPV and one dose of IPV immunization.

There have also been reports of attacks on polio teams in Quetta, Karachi and different regions of KPK. The insufficiency of education in the southern districts of KPK contributes to the failure of the polio eradication program.

Additionally, unawareness about the disease and its prevention further exacerbates the challenges faced in these regions. Unhealthy sanitation exacerbates the issue.

Religious factors also come to play a role in the hesitance amongst the population in Pakistan. Some people believe that the polio vaccine contains ingredients considered haram. This belief leads parents to not vaccinate their children.

Each child in Pakistan has the right to live a healthy life. The country has observed a decline in the cases of polio over the last two years. Immediate actions must be taken to halt the spread of the disease to prevent a high risk of future cases of polio.

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