ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s health authorities have finalized preparations to launch an anti-polio campaign in the country’s northwest that aims to vaccinate 74.78 million children in the area, a report in the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said on Sunday.
According to APP, the five-day campaign will commence across KP from Monday, Oct. 2, and during its first phase, children below five years of age will be administered polio drops in Peshawar, Kohat, Mardan, Malakand, and Hazara divisions.
Polio is a highly infectious and incurable disease caused by the poliovirus, which mainly affects children under the age of five. The virus invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death in some cases. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic.
“In the first phase of the campaign, around 63,628,95 children will be vaccinated against polio in all districts of Peshawar, Kohat, Mardan, Malakand, and Hazara divisions,” an official of the National Emergency Operation Center was quoted as saying by the APP.
During the second phase of the campaign, from Oct. 9-13, around 11,1681 children in Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan divisions will be vaccinated against the disease, the official added.
“During this anti-polio campaign, vitamin A will also be given to children to increase their immunity,” the official said, adding that children up to the age of five living in Afghan refugee camps throughout the province would also be vaccinated.
He said a total of 34,551 teams of trained polio workers would take part in the campaign, adding that around 54,567 police personnel have been deployed to ensure their security.
Attempts to eradicate polio in Pakistan have been hit by attacks targeting inoculation teams that have claimed hundreds of lives in over a decade.
Opposition to all forms of inoculation grew after the US Central Intelligence Agency organized a fake vaccination drive to help track down Al-Qaeda’s former leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.