World Polio Day – Polio outbreak reaches 132 cases in Pakistan; urgent need to accelerate progress on eradication
October 24, 2011, Islamabad - As the world marks World Polio Day, Pakistan draws world attention as one of only four polio endemic countries globally. With 132 new polio cases reported in 2011, there is a serious risk of Pakistan being the last polio reservoir in the world, imperilling global eradication efforts, unless progress is urgently accelerated.
Despite serious eradication efforts since the beginning of the year, Pakistan has continued to see rising numbers of polio cases, with Balochistan having 54 polio cases FATA (37), Sindh (27), KP (11), Punjab (2) and Gilgit-Baltistan (1).
“We must remember that behind every number there is the face of a child and a devastated family” said Dan Rohrmann, UNICEF Pakistan Representative. “We must end polio now and ensure access to all children with polio vaccinations as specified in the President’s National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication in Pakistan. We have a huge task ahead of us, and time is up as we are soon entering the low transmission season and where all eradication efforts have to be perfectly synchronized. We must act now,” said Mr Rohrmann.
WHO Representative for Pakistan, Dr Guido Sabatinelli, commented: “Eradicating polio from Pakistan depends on delivering oral polio vaccine to each and every child, including the most vulnerable and the hardest-to-reach at Union Council level. This massive undertaking can succeed, but only with the continued commitment of the Government, partners and the people of Pakistan.”
The next polio vaccination campaign will be launched tomorrow and target 33 million children across the country. UNICEF and WHO are working closely with provincial governments to deploy up to 800 additional staff in the 33 high-risk districts that represent a reservoir of the polio virus. In addition, networks of non-government organisations, along with religious and civic groups, are working to mobilize community support for polio vaccinations in targeted communities.
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