‘Punjab govt focuses on polio eradication efforts’

LAHORE    –   Owing to the risk of polio virus re-emergence in Punjab, the provincial government is prioritizing polio eradication activities in Faisalabad along with two other super high-risk districts of Lahore and Rawalpindi.

Chairing a meeting with Faisalabad Deputy Commissioner Sohail Ashraf, Punjab Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator Syedah Ramallah Ali on Monday said, “Faisalabad is a huge city with ample economic opportunities. People visit the city in huge numbers to earn livelihoods.” She added: “Although children do not travel to the city in large numbers but there is a risk that adults may carry the virus to the city. Therefore, the risk of children falling prey to polio is imminent.”

Ramallah said that the precedent of virus entering through mobile populations is not new. “We have seen in 2021 when virus made its way to the city and was detected in environmental samples.” The EOC coordinator ensured of every support to the deputy commissioner in order to phase out old micro-plans, digitization of micro-plans and introduction of new techniques to improve training quality.

The visiting deputy commissioner was informed on the initiatives taken by the province to prevent re-emergence of polio in Punjab in the wake of new polio cases in Pakistan. The EOC coordinator called for improving data quality and registration of all migrant and mobile population entering the district.

The deputy commissioner acknowledged the renewed commitment of polio programme to support the district and stressed on the need to educating parents about polio eradication efforts and the disease itself.

“The innovative approach to virtually map missed or underserved areas through Geographical Coverage Support System is praiseworthy. Since polio is a disease of lower-middle class, they need to be educated that vaccination as well as hygiene must be considered as a priority,” said the deputy commissioner.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the last remaining polio endemic countries left on the globe.

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