Polio Eradication

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The three-day visit to Pakistan by the Chairman of the Polio Oversight Board, Regional Directors of the World Health Organization, UNICEF and senior directors of the global polio programme was concluded on Friday. The visit was aimed to support Pakistan in addressing the remaining challenges to containing polio transmission. During their visit to Islamabad and Peshawar, the delegates visited Emergency Operation Centers, attended the National Task Force meeting and the Provincial Task Force meeting for polio eradication in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. They also held separate side meetings with Health Minister Qadir Patel. Between April and May, three children in North Waziristan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were paralyzed by polio. These cases appeared after nearly 15 months of no wild polio cases in the country. We know that the virus respects no borders, we must reach all children in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the polio vaccine to achieve a polio-free world. The polio cases reported in Pakistan are not a setback and unsurprising for any country on the path to eradication, as witnessed in Nigeria, the last country to become polio-free, where a wild polio case was reported after 30 months of zero cases. A five-day nationwide polio campaign will begin on May 23 across Pakistan and will be synchronized with Afghanistan, so that children on both sides of the border are simultaneously protected, and the virus prevented from crossing borders. Unfortunately, despite the huge expenditure and efforts, the disease persists in the country. The causes of this are misgivings about polio drops. Certain quarters are trying to sow confusion with regard to polio vaccination. These circles have succeeded in their diabolical designs to some extent. People influenced by the toxic propaganda about the polio drops have refused to get their children immunized. To get the polio free Pakistan, we need to give a last push and intensify our efforts, so that every girl and boy can be vaccinated against this deadly virus that causes lifelong disability.

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