Pakistan carries out another polio immunization campaign

The drive was launched after sewage samples in Lahore tested positive last month

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The Pakistan government launched an anti-polio vaccination campaign in an effort to eradicate the crippling disease affecting children. — AP File
The Pakistan government launched an anti-polio vaccination campaign in an effort to eradicate the crippling disease affecting children. — AP File

Published: Sun 19 Feb 2023, 9:17 PM

A polio vaccination campaign to inoculate more than six million children under the age of five years in 39 districts of the country concluded in Pakistan on Sunday.

The campaign was launched after sewage samples in Lahore tested positive for wild polio virus last month. The drive was carried out in nine districts, including the seven endemic districts of Bannu, D.I.Khan, Tank, Lakki Marwat, North Waziristan, upper South Waziristan and lower South Waziristan in the southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and two districts of Punjab — Lahore and Faisalabad.

The initiative was planned after two environmental samples collected from two separate sites in Lahore tested positive for wild polio virus in January.

According to the national polio lab at the National Institute of Health, the first positive sample was detected on January 19 and was genetically linked to the polio virus found in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan in November 2022.

This was the first evidence of cross-border transmission in more than a year. The second positive sample was reported on January 27, which was genetically linked to a virus circulating in southern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In a statement, Pakistan’s Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said parents and caregivers should ensure that children are vaccinated in every campaign to protect them from the disability-causing virus and to stop it from gaining a foothold in their communities.

He said the presence of wild polio virus with genetic links to the virus in Afghanistan and southern KP in sewage samples is evidence that the virus is moving with people and circulating in our communities.

The minister said: “Polio virus on any side of the border is a threat to children in both countries. Only repeated doses of oral polio vaccine can offer life-long protection.”


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