ISLAMABAD - The World Health Organization (WHO) marked the international World Polio Day on October 24 by recognizing the contributions of the government of Pakistan, polio workers, caregivers, civil society and donors, who are united in fight against polio in Pakistan. 

While speaking on the occasion, the country representative of WHO, Dr Palitha Mahipala, commented that “after more than 30 years of effort, the African region was certified as free of wild polio in August this year. It’s a great and momentous achievement that we are able to celebrate this on this World Polio Day and are working hard to ensure that Pakistan can be the next country on the journey to a polio-free world.”

Dr Palitha noted that, the polio eradication programme and partners affirmed they would remain undeterred and urged all to get behind this national cause. “Due to enormous challenges such as misconceptions about vaccines and the COVID-19 lockdowns, the efforts against polio have been affected. The polio programme, with its partners, has now been able to ramp-up activities with a revitalized resolve to end polio in Pakistan, as recently done by Africa.”

He further added that the global partners, including WHO and UNICEF, have contributed a lot while supporting the government of Pakistan in this noble and global cause of polio eradication. “However, more is needed to end polio once and for all. A key factor in its success is the hard work of over 260,000 frontline workers.” 

While addressing the attendees, Dr. Palitha applauded them saying, “they are our real heroes in this effort, and with the provided support, they have made us proud by vaccinating millions of children during each campaign.” 

Highlighting the role of community and parents, Dr Palitha said that now when the polio immunization activities had safely and smartly been resumed in the country, it was highly needed that every child received necessary vaccination. 

He said its moral and social responsibility of the community, care-givers and parents, to play their active role in vaccinating children against this crippling disease.  

As part of the ongoing campaigns, the next sub-national polio eradication campaign is starting from 26th October 2020 in 128 districts in the country. In this campaign, Pakistan Polio Programme is to vaccinate more than 31 million children under the age of five. 

The sub-national campaign include 33 districts of Punjab, 33 districts of Balochistan, 41 districts/towns of Sindh, 8 districts of Gilgit Baltistan, 10 districts of AJK and one district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

Moreover, all routine immunization centres have resumed services and parents are being encouraged to vaccine their children against all preventable diseases as per the advised schedule. 

WHO reiterated that vaccines work to protect children from preventable diseases and was a wise choice for all parents/care-givers.