Pakistan begins anti-polio drive amid resurgence in cases

Islamabad, Jun 27 (EFE).- Pakistan started anti-polio drive Monday covering 67 very high-risk districts for polio, while at least 10 cases have been reported in the country this year so far compared to just one in 2021.

More than 12.6 million children under the age of five will be vaccinated during the five-day second sub-national polio campaign of the year.

Over 100,000 trained and dedicated workers will be engaged in the vaccination drive to administer the dose to targeted children at their doorstep.

The vaccination drive will be conducted completely in 27 districts and in 40 districts partially, a statement from the National Emergency Operation Centre said.

“In this campaign we are focusing on districts with high risk and the security agencies are providing full cooperation for protection of our workers,” Zulfiqar Babakhel, spokesman for National Emergency Operation Centre, told EFE Monday.

The south Asian nation reported first polio case in North Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in April this year after a span of 15 months – the longest the country has gone without a case since eradication efforts began in 1994.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries left in the world where the poliovirus still exists.

Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio have often been hampered by conservative parents who refuse to get their children immunized, believing it part of a Western plot to sterilize children.

Militants regularly attack polio teams and the police escorting them, believing the drive to be a part the same conspiracy.

Such attacks increased after the United States spy agency CIA ran a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign to hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US commandos in 2011 in Pakistan.

Since 1994, Pakistan has been fighting to end the crippling poliovirus from the country.

The country of 220 million people has been able to reduce polio cases by up to 99 percent since the early 1990s. EFE


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