02/17/2020, 10.23
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Anti-polio campaign for 40 million children

Pakistan is one of the three countries in the world where the polio virus is still endemic. The door-to-door campaign will be carried out by almost 265 thousand health workers. In the past, Taliban militants attacked groups of vaccinators accusing them of espionage and sterilization.

Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The first national vaccination campaign against polio in Pakistan starts today, after the surge in new cases recorded last year. According to Islamabad authorities, around 40 million children will be immunized against the disease that affects the central nervous system. The campaign will be carried out by almost 265 thousand health workers who will go from house to house in search of minors under 5 who have not yet been vaccinated.

Vaccinations will be carried out throughout the territory except in Karachi, where operations started last week. The doctors' goal is to prevent new infections. A few days ago the National Institute of Health confirmed five cases in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, raising the total number of patients to 17 since the beginning of 2020. Last year there were 144 registered cases in the country, another 12 in 2018 and eight in 2017.

Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar, coordinator of the National Center for Emergency Operations, argues that the current geographical spread and intensity of transmission of the virus is a real risk for all Pakistani children. "Reaching every child - he adds - during the national door-to-door campaign will provide the necessary immune boost to our children and guarantee them to be protected from paralysis for life".

According to experts, the infection is mainly due to the distrust of the parents. In the past, Taliban militants attacked groups of vaccinators accusing them of carrying out health campaigns to sterilize children and do espionage.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are among the only three countries in the world - together with Nigeria - where the polio virus is still endemic. According to the World Health Organization, the disease is one of the most serious that affects children in the early years of life. The virus in fact attacks the cells of the central nervous system, destroying the nerves, and comes to cause paralysis or death in the most acute cases.


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