ISLAMABAD - Like other parts of the globe, World Polio Day was also observed in Pakistan on Saturday with commitment to eradicate polio and making the country free from this crippling disease.

This year’s theme was “A win against polio is a win for global health,” acknowledging that after 30 years of global hard work, humanity was very close to achieving the goal of having a polio-free world.

Polio was a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invaded the nervous system, and could cause paralysis or even death. While there was no cure for polio, vaccination was the most effective way to protect children from this disease.

Each time a child under the age of five was vaccinated, their protection against the virus was increased. Repeated immunizations had protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio free.

With a victory of Africa certified as wild polio free, Afghanistan and Pakistan remained the last to join the globe. At this crucial moment of time, the world highlighted that as long as polio existed anywhere, it would remain a threat everywhere.

In his message on World Polio Day, which coincided with the launch of another anti-polio campaign, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr. Faisal Sultan acknowledged the importance of eradicating polio for global health.

He said “Government is fully committed to make Pakistan polio free forever. It is absolutely necessary that children receive this life-saving vaccine and I request all parents to allow polio team to administer polio drops to their children.”

He said, “I am confident, together with our people and international partners, we will achieve our target of making a safer, healthier and polio-free Pakistan for our children.”

The Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme would launch a sub-national polio eradication campaign from 26th October to 1st November to vaccinate more than 30 million children under the age of five in 128 districts across Pakistan.

The campaign would include 33 districts of Punjab, 33 districts of Balochistan, 41 districts of Sindh, 8 districts of Gilgit Baltistan, 10 districts of AJK and one district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. During this campaign more than 210,000 frontline workers would go door to door to protect children from this crippling disease.

The vaccinators would continue to adhere to stringent COVID-19 preventative operating procedures as they did in the campaigns conducted in July, August and September.

According to Dr. Rana Safdar, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, “While we may have not achieved zero cases, the Pakistan Polio Programme has been able to secure the future of millions of children by continued vaccination.

“Despite multiple challenges, our frontline workers remain committed and are the real heroes. Today, on World Polio Day, we are celebrating and recognizing their achievements,” Dr. Rana Safdar said. “World’s eyes are focused on Pakistan and the government is committed to eradicate polio virus from the country.

Now it’s up to the parents and society as a whole to vaccinate their children and open doors to frontline workers to get rid of not only the polio but all other vaccine preventable diseases,” Dr Safdar added.