Three-day anti-polio drive kicks off in KP, FATA, Balochistan

ISLAMABAD: A three-day anti-polio campaign has kicked off from Monday in selected areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), frontier regions and Balochistan, Radio Pakistan reported.

The drive aims to administer polio drops to at least 6,48,441 children below the age of five for which 2031 teams have been formed including 1723 mobile teams, 121 transit points and 187 fixed points.

According to Health Directorate K-P, the campaign has been launched in Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Karak, Tank, Bannu and Hangu districts of the province, South Waziristan Agency and frontier regions.

During the campaign, more than one million children up to five years of age will be administered anti-polio drops.

Children in Quetta, Barkhan, Jaffarabad, Naseerabad, Qilla Saifullah, Loralai, Zhob, Dera Bugti, Kohlu and Sherani districts of Balochistan will be given polio drops on Monday.

According to the provincial Coordinator Polio Emergency Operation Centre, Syed Faisal Ahmed, during the campaign, more than 600,000 children below the age of five will be administered the anti-polio vaccination.

Special security measures have been taken to avoid any untoward incident during the campaign. Heavy contingent of police and levies personnel have been deployed for the security of polio teams.

Pakistan hopes to be removed from the list of polio-endemic countries by 2018 by achieving its goal of no fresh cases for a year. It is one of only two countries in the world where polio, a crippling childhood disease, remains endemic.

Last month, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chairman Bill Gates appreciated the progress achieved in eradication of polio over the last four years in Pakistan and expressed hope that the goal of complete eradication from the remaining three pockets in the country would be achieved soon.

Gates called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was attending the United Nations General Assembly, at a hotel in New York.

Gates reiterated his continued interest in working together for eradication of polio in Pakistan. He also expressed interest in expansion of engagements in other areas, including the broader immunisation programme.