Pakistan begins anti-polio drive to vaccinate 30 mln children 

A health worker (L) administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a polio vaccination door-to-door campaign at a low-income residential area in Islamabad on September 21, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 26 October 2020

Pakistan begins anti-polio drive to vaccinate 30 mln children 

  • More than 200,000 frontline workers will participate in door-to-door program to immunize children below five years of age 
  • Nearly 80 new cases of polio have been reported since January this year 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday began an anti-polio drive to vaccinate nearly 30 million children in 128 districts across the country as part of a campaign which ends on November 1. 

For the purpose, 210,000 frontline workers will participate in the door-to-door initiative to immunize children below five years of age, a statement released by Pakistan Polio Eradication Program (PPEP) said on Monday. 

It added that during smaller campaigns launched in July and August, frontline workers had been trained in anti-COVID-19 precautionary measures, such as proper use of face masks, regular hand washing, and maintaining a safe social distance during the door-to-door visits. 

“Polio workers have been trained in COVID-19 protocols...and the anti-polio campaign would be utilized to raise awareness about preventive measures against coronavirus as well,” it said. 

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. 

Pakistan resumed its anti-polio drive on July 20, after a four-month break and in smaller numbers, with the campaign used to raise awareness about the coronavirus disease as well.

According to the WHO, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio continues to be a threat, with Pakistan reporting 79 new cases since January this year. 

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,” the PPEP statement said. 


Nepalese climbers bag mountaineering’s last great prize: winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

Updated 5 min 57 sec ago

Nepalese climbers bag mountaineering’s last great prize: winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

  • One of the ten Nepalese mountaineers performed the feat without using an oxygen cylinder
  • K2 earned the nickname of ‘savage mountain’ since a large number of climbers lost their lives while trying to scale it

ISLAMABAD: A group of Nepalese climbers made history on Saturday by summiting the world’s second tallest mountain, K2, in winter, according to its team leader who made the announcement on Facebook only minutes after making the accomplishment. 

“The Karakorum’s ‘Savage Mountain’ has been summited in the most dangerous season: WINTER,” Chhang Dawa Sherpa exclaimed in his social media post.

His announcement was also confirmed by an official of the Alpine Club of Pakistan which deals with mountaineering expeditions in the country.

At 8,611 meters, K2 was the only peak among the 14 “8000ers” located in the Karakorum and Himalayan mountain ranges that remained unconquered during winter. 

Along the icy glaciers of the Karakoram, mountaineers and locals speak about K2 summits with a hushed reverence, and folklore in the area is rife with mythical stories of the mountain “permitting” climbers to reach its top — considered the ultimate honor granted to a mortal by nature. 

When a climb doesn't go as planned, locals tell each other the mountain refused to be scaled. 

“The Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt. K2 … this afternoon at 17:00 local time,” Dawa wrote. “This is the first winter ascent of the 2nd highest mountain in the world and the ONLY eight-thousander (8000er) to be climbed in winter. This is a greatest achievement in the history of mountaineering, this is a good example of team work … ‘If a mountain lets you climb it, no one can stop you.’” 

One of the ten Nepalese climbers, Mingma G, also became the first mountaineer to summit the peak in winter without an oxygen cylinder.

K2 earned the nickname of “savage mountain” since a large number of climbers — 86 in all — lost their lives while trying to scale it. 

In 2008, 11 climbers from an international expedition died in what was considered as the single worst accident in the history of mountaineering. 

K2 straddles the Pakistan-China border. While it is about two-and-a-half football fields shorter than Everest (8,848 meters), it is widely considered to be the toughest and most dangerous mountain to climb. 

More than 300 climbers have scaled K2 in spring and summer. Italians Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli were the first to reach its summit in the summer of 1954.