KARACHI - The emergency operation centre for polio in Sindh will launch a polio campaign from November 12 to 19 in all districts of Karachi and 18 districts of interior Sindh.

The total target population for this campaign is above seven million children under five years of age out of which approximately 2.3 million children reside in Karachi. More than 50,000 front line workers will take part in the campaign, this includes team members and area in charges.

In Karachi alone there are 9,000 community health workers supported by 2,300 area in-charges who will go door-to-door to give polio drops to children. They will be given security cover by approximately 5,000 law enforcement agency personnel.

The total case count for Sindh in 2018 is 1. However a total of 8 cases have been reported across the country this year.

Newly appointed coordinator EOC Sindh Umar Farooq Bullo said that “there has been more than 99% reduction in polio cases since 2014 and there has been great progress in programme implementation in Sindh and Pakistan, however environment samples are positive and therefore we must maintain the momentum and keep vaccinating children to save them from polio.”

In 2014 there were 306 cases of polio across the country, in 2015 there were 54, in 2016 there were 20 and in 2017 there were eight cases of polio in the country. Meanwhile, in the province of Sindh there were 30 polio cases in 2014 in compared to two polio cases in 2017 which were both from Karachi. Northern Sindh has not reported a polio case in more than two years. The case count of eight in Pakistan and two in Sindh was 2017 is a historical low for both the country and the province.

The coordinator EOC Sindh said: “We have reduced cases through intensive polio drives but we are facing refusals because of repeated vaccination, we would like to take this opportunity to inform the masses that repeated vaccination is necessary for polio eradication and to ensure children are safe from polio.”

The Pakistan Pediatric Association and medical experts recommend that every child must take two drops of the vaccine every time it is offered. In order to save their children from polio, parents must vaccinate them with two drops of the polio vaccine during every campaign. The creation of the emergency operation centres in the provinces have gone a long way to improve the programme as all partners involved in polio eradication work as one team and sit under one roof.

In Karachi, the community based vaccination initiative is bearing fruit as educated women that are local to the neighborhoods they work in are leading vaccination drives. Under the leadership of the Sindh government and the active role being played by the chief minister and Sindh health minister, the programme is now reaching more children than ever before.

The districts where the polio drive will take place include Karachi (all districts), Thatta, Badin, Sujawal, Hyderabad, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiari, Larkana, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kamber, Kashmore, SBA, Sanghar, NFeroz, Sukkur, Ghotiki and Khairpur.