Coordinator Emergency Response Unit for Polio Mr. Shujaat Hussain, Additional Deputy Commissioner East Mr. Younus Dehri and District health Officer East Dr. Ashfaq Ahmed inaugurated the polio campaign conducted an awareness walk from DC East Office to inform community members and raise awareness on the upcoming polio campaign in Karachi.
Speaking to the media, ERU Coordinator Mr. Shujaat informed the gathering that the Emergency Operation Centre for Polio in Sindh will conduct a province wide Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) campaign in Sindh from the 21 to 27 Sept 2020.
The campaign will take place in all 29 districts of Sindh with a total target population of 9,148,355 children under 5 years of age out of which more than 2.2 million children reside in Karachi.
More than 50,000 polio workers will be deployed in the province for house to house vaccination while 5000 personel from law enforcement agencies will provide security covert for this important campaign.
The gathering was informed These polio campaigns are of the utmost importance as we must give children the oral polio vaccine to save them from polio and to ensure a healthy future for them, Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan and has so far reported a total of 72 cases of polio out of which 22 cases are from Sindh.
It is absolutely necessary that children receive these life-saving vaccines and also complete their routine immunization.
It may be mentioned that Sindh had back to back successful campaigns from December 2019 to March 2020 which had gone a long way to put the polio programme on track.
However, since the outbreak of COVID-19 no campaigns could be conducted while routine immunization was also severely affected, leaving an immunity gap which must immediately be addressed as children are more susceptible to the virus than before.
This is the second province wide campaign since the start of the pandemic in March, with the first one last month in August.
According to spokesperson EOC Sindh, “While are dealing with the pandemic, we must also ensure immunization to prevent childhood diseases.
Children can be saved from childhood diseases like polio, measles Typhoid and others through vaccination and we seek the media’s help to raise awareness regarding this”
Following the halt in global polio campaigns from April to June as a result of COVID-19, Sindh conducted a small-scale campaign in District East and District West in Karachi during the month of July that covered 260,700 children under 5 years of age.
Following this a province wide campaign was conducted in August which vaccinated approximately 9 million children.
The polio drives were conducted while following all WHO recommended COVID-19 precautionary measures and the same will be followed during the September polio drive.
These safety measures mainly include:
• All COVID-19 precautionary measures to be followed during training of workers
• All polio workers and supervisors will use a face mask and hand sanitizer during the field work to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19
• Worker will not knock on doors with their hands but instead use a ruler or
In order to make up for the gap in campaigns, the ERU Coordinator requests all parents to cooperate with polio teams and give their under 5 children two drops of the polio vaccine every time they are offered.
The benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risk of transmission after COVID and the Government of Sindh is committed to providing these life-saving vaccines to the children of the province so that the immunity gap can be decreased.
The door to door campaigns will also be utilized to raise awareness on COVID 19 prevention as well as for referring mothers and children for other essential vaccinations and antenatal care services.
The Pakistan Pediatric Association, medical experts across the world and major religious scholars across Pakistan and the region endorse the oral polio vaccine which is safest and most effective for not only preventing polio but also eradicating it from the environment.
10 billion doses of this vaccine have been given to 3 billion children across the world in the last decade as a result of which 10 million polio cases have been avoided.