LAHORE   -   Afgan elders have assured full support to polio teams in the upcoming National Immunization Days starting from May 23. The assurance was given during a meeting of the Afghan elders with head of the polio programme in Punjab Ms Syedah Ramallah Ali held in the Emergency Operations Centre of Punjab. “We will go back in our tribes, neighbourhoods and native towns and guide families and friends to vaccinate children in every polio campaign,” said Haji Asal Khan, the leader of Afghan elders’ delegation. “Polio teams are doing a wonderful work saving children from the crippling disease-like,” he added. The National Immunization Days (NIDs) will take place from May 23-27, with two days dedicated to reaching ‘not available’ children. While in mega districts of Lahore, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi, the campaign will run from May 23-29, also with two days dedicated to reaching Not Available children.

In Punjab alone, this will translate into 22 million children under the age of five receiving anti-polio vaccinations.  In light of the fact that Pakistan suffered three new polio cases this year so far, the provincial government is further prioritising the issue.

Punjab has been polio-free since October 2020 while no environmental sample has tested positive since May 2021. Nevertheless, this success will remain fragile unless and until polio is completely eradicated from both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Afghan elders assured to the polio programme head to provide language specific volunteers during the polio drive who will ensure that ‘no child remains without polio vaccine in any household.’

Speaking on the occasion head of the polio prpgramme Ms Syedah Ramallah Ali reassured the Afghan elders that “all families who are arriving from other provinces are the responsibility of Punjab government.”

“They are our guests. Children are welcome to avail health facilities. They will be provided all facilities without discrimination,” reassured the health of the polio programme.

“It is the responsibility of the families to vaccinate children against polio and other diseases on time. Vaccination is the right of every child. We should not deprive them of this right,” said Ms Ramallah.

About the vaccine Ms Ramallah added saying that polio vaccine was one of the safest ever developed. “The vaccine is very effective and all parents must be reassured that vaccination was the only recourse to eradication of polio.”