Pakistan has made remarkable progress in the fight against polio: Russell

“UNICEF is proud to be part of this effort. We are committed to working with all our partners to finish the job and end polio in Pakistan at last, so that every child can be protected from this potentially fatal, but easily preventable, disease.”

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ISLAMABAD:  UNICEF’s new Executive Director, Catherine Russell, visited the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) and expressed her support to Pakistan’s polio eradication efforts. She met Dr. Shahzad Baig, National Coordinator, NEOC and polio staff, was briefed on the Polio programme, and visited the Operations Room and the 1166 Helpline.

“Pakistan has made remarkable progress in the fight against polio,” Russell said. “UNICEF is proud to be part of this effort. We are committed to working with all our partners to finish the job and end polio in Pakistan at last, so that every child can be protected from this potentially fatal, but easily preventable, disease.”

Dr. Shahzad Baig made a comprehensive presentation on the programme focusing on the current risks and challenges as well as the strategies and approaches being adopted to overcome them. “All polio activities have been sustained under the Government management and oversight at every level, with the full commitment of the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers. The programme strives to reach children who have been repeatedly missed and need to receive the vaccine to build immunity,” he explained.

The UNICEF Executive Director also met with women and children during a community engagement session at an Afghan Refugee Settlement in Islamabad. She applauded the hard work of polio staff, 60 per cent of whom are women, and frontline health care workers to reach children during routine and polio vaccination campaigns, especially in hard-to-reach and high-risk areas. She was accompanied by UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Aida Girma, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi, and UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia George Laryea-Adjei.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunizations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free.

Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan.

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