Islamabad, anti-polio campaign for 40 million children
In 2019 there was a peak in new cases, with 104 children suffering from the virus. In the past, the Taliban opposed vaccination and accused health professionals of sterilization. About 250 thousand doctors and nurses are accompanied by 80 thousand security agents.
Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A polio vaccination campaign has started in Pakistan for nearly 40 million children under the age of five. Announcing the campaign yesterday, national coordinator of the Pakistani polio elimination program by Rana Muhammad Safdar, said the objective is to reduce the onset of new cases, after the peak of this year with 104 new infections, of which 74 in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
The number of children who contracted the virus this year has led the Islamabad government to run for cover. This is the worst result since 2014, when there were 306 cases. There are 250,000 health workers in the field who will cover the entire Pakistani territory for five days. To protect them, the government of Islamabad has arranged 80 thousand security agents.
Experts explain that the infection is mainly due to the mistrust of parents. In the past, Taliban militants have attacked vaccination groups accusing them of carrying out health campaigns to sterilize children. In a tweet, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq called on families to "welcome workers and allow them to vaccinate our children against polio".
Doctors, nurses and volunteers have begun to carry out vaccines in the districts on the border with Afghanistan, which this year reopened the doors to vaccinators, after a ban imposed by the Taliban on foreign operators for fear of sterilization and espionage.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are among the only three countries in the world - together with Nigeria - in which the polio virus is still endemic. According to the World Health Organization, the disease is one of the most serious affecting children in the first years of life. The virus in fact attacks the cells of the central nervous system, destroying the nerves, and can even cause paralysis or death in the most acute cases.