Week-long anti polio drive to start in Balochistan from Aug 1

QUETTA   -   A campaign to administer anti polio vaccination to approxi­mately 2.6 million children under five years of age will be launched across Balochistan from August 1, according to the province’s polio eradication programme head.

Syed Zahid Shah, the pro­vincial Emergency Operation Centre coordinator, said 11,539 teams of health workers have been formed for the seven-day campaign. He was briefing a meeting chaired by Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Uqa­ili to review arrangements for the campaign in Quetta and oth­er districts of the province.

Quetta DIG Operations, dep­uty commissioners of all dis­tricts and representatives of the Unicef, WHO and other rel­evant bodies participated in the meeting. Mr Uqaili urged the stockholders, including local administration, to take an ac­tive part in the efforts to com­pletely eradicate the poliovirus from Balochistan in 2023. He said the presence of the virus in Afghanistan was a challenge for Balochistan, especially in the districts of Chaman, Qila Abdullah and Pishin which border Afghanistan. The chief secretary added that the pro­vincial government was utilis­ing all available resources to completely eradicate the virus with the cooperation of partner institutions. No negligence will be tolerated by the relevant au­thorities during the polio cam­paign, he warned.

“With effective anti-polio campaigns, the virus has been controlled to a massive extent in the province, which is great progress.” The chief secretary said that the security of polio workers should be ensured in all areas and additional per­sonnel should be deployed in areas where the law and order situation was poor. Later, Mr Uqaili inaugurated the cam­paign by administering polio drops to a child. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two nations in the world where po­liovirus was still endemic.

In March, the country re­ported its first poliovirus case of 2023 after a three-year-old boy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bannu district became the latest victim of the crippling disease.

Districts in southern KP and Balochistan — along the Pak-Afghan border — are still con­sidered to be the virus hotspots.

In 2022, 20 cases of wild poliovirus and 41 positive en­vironmental samples were re­ported from three districts in southern KP.

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