Polio elimination in sight

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EXPRESSING satisfaction over the effective measures taken against polio, Regional Director of UNICEF for South Asia George Laryea Adjei in an interview hoped that the crippling disease would be eradicated from Pakistan by the end of next year.

He said the current data suggested that the virus is now under control in the country.

This indeed is the recognition of the relentless efforts made by successive governments to rid the country of this highly infectious disease which mainly affects children aged below five years and enters the nervous system and causes paralysis and even death.

It will be unfair not to especially commend the services of polio workers who whilst risking and even rendering their lives tried to reach each child for vaccination, particularly those working in sensitive areas such as tribal districts and Balochistan are still faced with life threats.

Just a few days back, a police van deployed for the security of polio workers came under attack in Quetta.

The entire nation will always remain indebted to the services of these security personnel and polio workers.

International partners and the religious scholars also deserve recognition for supporting the anti-polio campaign.

However, those sitting in the health ministries need not to be complacent at all as in recent years we have seen the cases going up and down.

About eighteen polio cases including 16 in North Waziristan have been reported during the current year.

The virus has also been reported in sewage samples collected from Islamabad and Lahore after a gap of 16 months.

Both these cities were declared polio-free in March last year. Hence, the relevant authorities need to stay focused and ensure timely immunization campaigns.

As recent devastating floods have displaced millions of families, reaching out to every child will be a major challenge.

It is, therefore, responsibility of the authorities concerned to beat the odds and ensure the vaccination reaches every child.

An awareness campaign must continue and it is also for the parents to fulfil their responsibility to get their children vaccinated to finally achieve the ultimate goal of polio-free Pakistan.