PESHAWAR - A three-day polio eradication drive kicked off in tribal areas on Monday amid fears that as much as 370,000 children may still remain unvaccinated because of the poor law and order situation, sources said.
The fresh campaign will continue until May 28 and it is being carried out in North Waziristan, South Waziristan, and parts of Mohmand Agency, Khyber Agency and FR Bannu.
The drive was formally commenced by Fata Additional Chief Secretary Arbab Muhammad Arif at Fata Secretariat. Fata Health Services Director Dr Pervez Kamal, a team of WHO officials, representatives of the Unicef and others officials from the various Fata departments were also present on the occasion.
In the ongoing three-day drive, more than 620,000 children to receive polio drops, officials said. However, around 3, 69,039 children are estimated to remain uncovered in this drive because of the law and order situation in these tribal areas.
As many as 2,235 teams comprising trained volunteers would dispense drops to targeted 621,681 children all over the Fata. According to the break up, the polio teams include 1,964 mobile teams, 206 fixed teams and 65 transit teams that would do the job under security cover. Moreover, at least 56 people including health workers and policemen have so far been killed in militant attacks on polio vaccination teams in Pakistan since December 2012. This time elaborate security arrangements have been made to make the campaign a real success. Speaking on the occasion, Arbab called upon the people engaged with polio eradication campaign to ensure that all the targeted children under five years of age are vaccinated. He also appealed to the community members to extend full cooperation with the polio teams so that the deadly disease is eradicated from the region.
Pakistan is one of only three countries where the crippling disease remains endemic, and is responsible for 80 percent of polio cases diagnosed around the globe. At the start of this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared global “public health emergency” after new polio cases began surfacing.