Pakistan to resume polio vaccination next week

A Pakistani health worker (R) administers the polio vaccine to a child during a vaccination campaign in Rawalpindi on December 9, 2014. (AFP Photo)
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Updated 13 July 2020

Pakistan to resume polio vaccination next week

  • Immunization campaign was suspended in March amid the coronavirus outbreak
  • Door-to-door campaigns will be utilized to raise awareness about COVID-19 preventive measures

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will resume polio vaccinations on July 20, after a four-month break amid the coronavirus outbreak, health ministry officials said on Sunday.

All polio activities in Pakistan came to a halt when the World Health Organization (WHO) decided in late March that they should be suspended to avoid placing communities and frontline workers at the risk of contracting COVID-19.

“We are initially aiming to target areas with continuous poliovirus circulation to protect children against the crippling polio disease during this case response," Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre at the health ministry's Polio Eradication Program, said in a statement.

In the first phase of the resumed immunization campaign, the government seeks to vaccinate 800,000 children under the age of five in the districts of Faisalabad, Attock, South Waziristan and parts of Karachi and Quetta.

Safdar said that polio workers have been trained in COVID-19 protocols and the anti-polio campaign will also be utilized to raise awareness about preventive measure against the coronavirus.

Polio is endemic in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, and in both countries efforts to eradicate it have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Polio Eradication Program data, 58 polio cases have been reported across Pakistan since the beginning of the year — 21 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 20 in Sindh, 14 in Balochistan and three in Punjab.


Pakistan sends medicines, food items to Lebanon after deadly explosions

Updated 07 August 2020

Pakistan sends medicines, food items to Lebanon after deadly explosions

  • More than 150 people were killed and over 5,000 others were injured when a string of blasts rocked Beirut on August 4
  • FM Qureshi assured his Lebanese counterpart that the government and people of Pakistan stood in strong solidarity with the people of Lebanon

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday sent medicines and food items to Lebanon after a string of deadly explosions ripped through Beirut earlier this week, killing more than 150 people and injuring over 5,000 others.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Lebanon Najeeb Durrani is handing over eight tons of relief items for the victims of Beirut explosions to senior Lebanese officials at the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut on Aug. 7, 2020. (Photo courtesy Pakistan Embassy in Beirut)

According to an official statement released in Islamabad, the country’s foreign minister called his Lebanese counterpart and informed him about the relief assistance over the phone.
“Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a telephonic conversation, informed his Lebanese counterpart, Charbel Wehbe, that 8 tons of relief assistance consisting of medicines and food supplies sent by the Government of Pakistan as a token of solidarity would be delivered in Beirut today,” said the official statement.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Lebanon Najeeb Durrani is handing over eight tons of relief items for the victims of Beirut explosions to senior Lebanese officials at the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut on Aug. 7, 2020. (Photo courtesy Pakistan Embassy in Beirut)

It added that Qureshi also expressed deep sorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives, injuries to people, and extensive material damage caused by the explosions.
“The Foreign Minister underscored that, at this difficult time, Pakistan stood in strong support and solidarity with the brotherly Lebanese people,” the statement said.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Lebanon Najeeb Durrani is handing over eight tons of relief items for the victims of Beirut explosions to senior Lebanese officials at the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut on Aug. 7, 2020. (Photo courtesy Pakistan Embassy in Beirut)

Meanwhile, authorities in Lebanon received the relief package on Friday afternoon.
“The relief goods were handed over to Deputy Chief of Protocol Mr. Salem Al Achkar from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants and General Elias Abi Karam, Commander of Lebanon’s Air Force by Najeeb Durrani, Ambassador of Pakistan, today at 1530 at Rafic Hariri International Airport,” Pakistan’s embassy in Beirut confirmed in a statement.