ISLAMABAD: A countrywide campaign to administer anti-polio drops to 39 million children under age of five years started on Monday throughout the country.

According to an official of National Emergency Operations Centre for the Polio Programme, during this special campaign, 260,000 front-line polio workers will go door-to-door to ensure children are vaccinated with two drops of vaccine to protect them against the polio virus. He said that the anti-polio drive will target children in all four provinces, Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan against the crippling disease. The official said that during this vaccination campaign, a total of 20 million children below the age of five years will be administrated polio vaccine in Punjab while nine million children will be vaccinated in Sindh.

Similarly, over 6.8 million children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 2.4 million children in Balochistan will be administered anti-polio drops. The official said that Islamabad will be implementing the polio campaign targeting 0.4 million children while 0.7 million children will be vaccinated in Kashmir. He said that in Peshawar over 1.6 million children of over 10 year of age will be vaccinated.

He said that considering the present risks due to poliovirus circulation, the government has urged parents to ensure immunisation of all children during each and every polio campaign. Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for the Polio Programme, Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar stressed the importance of civil society, religious scholars and media in promoting the norm of vaccination.

“Parents should cooperate with polio workers and administer their children with anti-polio drops — which will ultimately help save them from a lifetime of disability,” he said.

He explained that polio is caused by the poliovirus and the affected children can be paralysed for life.

He said there is no cure for polio, but prevention through immunisation can reduce the chances of contracting the virus. He added multiple vaccinations are critical in safeguarding children from the virus.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Babar Bin Atta said “The country now has one of the best opportunities to stop transmission of the poliovirus.”

He said “It is high time that we all gear up to collectively fight the virus and provide support to our brave front-line workers so that they can reach and vaccinate every single Pakistani child.”

He added that, “challenges remain in fully eradicating the virus, however, the federal and provincial governments stay firmly committed to defeating the virus forever.”