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Latest Round of Anti-Polio Campaign Inaugurated

© UNICEF/Zaidi/PO_0001
Health Minister, M. Nasir Khan giving polio drops to a child

The tent village accommodating earthquake victims in Islamabad was the venue for inauguration of the three-day anti-polio campaign and Vitamin A supplementation drive on Wednesday, November 23.

Federal Minister for Health, Mohammad Nasir Khan administered polio and Vitamin A drops to children under five years of age. He was accompanied by UNICEF Representative, Omar Abdi; WHO Representative, Khalif Bile Mohamud and Executive Director of the National Institute of Health, Prof. K.A Karamat.

Speaking on the occasion, the Health Minister said that the polio eradication drive targets 31 million children and that 75,000 teams have been constituted for the purpose. He emphasised the need to ensure that no eligible child is missed during the current round as Pakistan inches close to achieving polio-free status.  Vaccination activity is being carried out in the quake-affected areas against different diseases including polio, he added.

UNICEF Representative, Omar Abdi highlighted the fact that children are at greater risk of contracting disease, which is why campaigns to protect them from diseases such as polio, tetanus, typhoid, cholera and measles have been initiated.

Despite achieving considerable success in its fight against poliomyelitis, Pakistan has reported 22 cases of polio this year.  





Pakistan Anti-Polio Drive

Pakistan finished 2004 with 53 cases - a decrease of more than 50% from the previous year. Pakistan is currently at 22 cases. The most active areas of virus circulation currently in Pakistan are S. Punjab, especially D.G. Khan, and southern NWFP in the security compromised areas of N. and S. Waziristan. Of the 3 types of polio (P1, P2, P3), only type 1 has been seen in Pakistan in 2005. Type 2 has been eradicated globally since 1999, type 3 was last seen in Pakistan in December 2004. This milestone of progress allowed Pakistan to use a type 1 vaccine in the September and November immunization campaigns, instead of the triple vaccine used in previous rounds.
Previous experience with this targeted vaccine shows it to be about 3 times more effective in promoting antibodies in children than the triple vaccine. It is expected that if the quality of campaign coverage achieved in previous immunization rounds of 2004 – 5 can be maintained into 2006, the country will stop transmission of the virus completely by the middle of next year.


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