PESHAWAR - A special one-day anti-polio campaign of 2015 was launched on Sunday in Peshawar amid tight security in the provincial capital. More than 700,000 children below the age of five-year were administered polio drops.

The administration banned bike riding for a day in the city as part of security arrangements. As many as 4,000 policemen were deployed for the security of volunteers while section 144 was also imposed during the one-day special anti-polio drive in the provincial metropolis.

Nearly 400 teams comprising health workers, visitors and volunteers, took part in the polio eradication drive. Stringent security steps were taken for protection of polio vaccinators, as around 4,000 police personnel were deployed in Peshawar. Besides this, awareness pamphlets and booklets regarding nine childhood diseases were also distributed in different areas.

The district administration also banned motorbike riding from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm to avert any untoward incident during the campaign. Peshawar Deputy Commissioner Syed Zaheerul Islam said that ban was imposed to avoid any untoward incident during the anti-polio drive. The ban was imposed under Section 144 and warned that those found violating the law would have to face action under Section 188 of Pakistan Penal Code.

“The Provincial Health Department had set a target to administer polio drops to more than 700,000 children below the age of five years in the 97 union councils of Peshawar district to save them from the fatal disease during the campaign, which has been achieved,” the health officials said. They informed the campaign was carried out under supervision of health experts designated at various localities of Peshawar.

For this purpose, they said, about 400 fixed and mobile teams have been formed while district administration chalked out a comprehensive security plan to ensure their security.

The World Health Organisation had declared a global “public health emergency” in early May after new polio cases began surfacing and spreading across borders from countries, including Pakistan. Pakistan is one of only three countries along with Afghanistan and Nigeria where the crippling disease remains endemic. But violence has badly hampered the campaign to stamp out polio from Pakistan. Dozens of health workers and police providing security have been killed in militant attacks on polio vaccination teams in Pakistan since December 2012.