Pakistan begins anti-polio drive targeting 44 million children

Islamabad, Jan 16 (EFE).- Pakistan began its first anti-polio campaign of the year, targeting 44.2 million children under the age of five amid a surge in infections in 2022, an official said on Monday.

The country reported 20 polio cases last year, compared to only one in 2021.

All the cases emerged in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

No polio case has been reported in the country so far this year.

Polio Eradication Program said workers would immunize more than 44.2 million children in 156 districts during the campaign.

“This time we are also giving Vitamin-A supplement to children aged 6 to 59 months to boost their immunity against all infectious diseases,” program spokesperson Zulfiqar Babalkhel told EFE.

He said more than 360,000 frontline workers are in the field with security personnel guarding them.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif kicked off the drive by administering polio drops to children in Islamabad on Sunday.

Sharif said many frontline workers lost their lives in the line of duty when suspected militants attacked them.

He said recent floods in Pakistan disrupted the anti-polio drive, but workers fulfilled their responsibilities with great determination.

The country has witnessed frequent attacks on polio teams and security forces guarding them.

Militants claim the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries where polio still exists. EFE


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