ISLAMABAD – Pakistan launched its first polio campaign of the year on Sunday, targeting 44.2 million children under the age of five.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where polio continues to threaten the health and well-being of children. Polio affects the nervous system of children and eventually leads to paralysis.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif launched a nationwide campaign by administering polio drops to children in the capital Islamabad, saying Pakistan was unfortunately among the few countries still suffering from the disease.
Twenty cases were reported in the tribal area of North Waziristan last year, although the disease was contained among other children due to immunization, Sharif said.
About 44 million children in 156 districts will be vaccinated.
This includes 22.54 million children in Punjab, 10.1 million in Sindh and 7.4 million in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Sharif said his government along with other stakeholders including American billionaire Bill Gates and the World Health Organization are making effective contributions to eradicate polio in Pakistan.
He presented certificates of appreciation at the launch to frontline polio workers and praised their “invaluable sacrifices”.
Pakistan has witnessed frequent attacks on anti-polio teams and police officers deployed to protect them. Militants falsely claim that vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.
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