Punjab to launch polio eradication campaign from tomorrow

Campaign called OBR will be held in five tehsils of Rawalpindi and four tehsils of Attock

LAHORE   -   Punjab is all to launch a polio eradica­tion campaign from Monday (August 7) after polio virus was detected in one of the environmental sites in Rawalpindi. The campaign called Outbreak Response (OBR) will be held in five tehsils of Rawal­pindi and four tehsils of Attock. Vaccina­tion campaign will be held in Fateh Jang, Hazro, Attock and Hassan Abdal of At­tock district. While campaign will be held in Gujjar Khan, Rawalpindi Canton­ment, Rawalpindi City, Rawalpindi Rural and Taxila tehsils of Rawalpindi district. Nearly 1.1 million children will be vac­cinated in the OBR which will last six days. The Punjab Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) has set up teams to vac­cinate all children five years of age or less and deployed experts to ensure smooth implementation of campaign in both the districts. Rawalpindi has three environ­mental sampling sites which are located at Safdarabad, Dhok Dallal and Serae Kala. Serae Kala was added to the list of environmental sites only in December last year to reinforce polio virus surveil­lance and to plan any response on time. The is the first time the district has test­ed positive since September 2022 and third sample which has tested positive in Punjab this year. “The positive sample in Rawalpindi indicates that the virus is circulating in the region, even if no one case has been identified it’s alarming for all the children”, stated Mr Khizer Afzaal Chaudhary, Emergency Operations Cen­tre Coordinator and head of the polio programme in Punjab in a statement. “Government is launching the vaccina­tion response from Monday to vaccinate every child by administering polio drops to boost their immunity against the crippling disease”, Mr Khizer said. “If a single case is reported in a region, it re­mains threat to children residing in 200 houses in vicinity. Even though no case is reported from Punjab up till now, but the positive environmental samples are a clear message to all the parents to vac­cinate their children with two drops of polio every time it is offered”, added the EOC coordinator. Punjab has set up 31 polio environmental sampling sites in 19 districts. They include Lahore, Multan, Khanewal, Bahawalnagar, Jhang, Attock, Gujrat, Mianwali, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Faisala­bad, Sargodha, Rawalpindi Gujranwala, Sialkot, Sahiwal and Okara. Surveillance for Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) is con­sidered to be the ‘gold standard’ for polio surveillance in endemic and polio-free countries. But experts also indicated that environmental surveillance could serve as an early warning system for the detec­tion of poliovirus when targeting areas where high-risk groups, such as mobile population, under or un-immunised populations, reside.

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