Last ditch effort to get off the polio-infected list

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Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated the anti-polio campaign by administering polio vaccine to children below five years of age at Chief Minister’s Secretariat, here today. Special Assistant Khawaja Salman Rafique, Health Secretary Arif Nadeem, DG Health Punjab, representatives of World Health Organisation Dr Debra Betel, Health Lahore EDO and other officers concerned were present.
Talking on the occasion, the CM said that it was a collective responsibility to safeguard the future of the new generation and every citizen would have to play his due role in order to eradicate polio from the society. He said 1 crore 73 lakh children would be administered polio drops during the 3-day anti-polio campaign throughout the province, for which 38,000 mobile teams had been constituted in the province. He said camps had also been set up at the entry and exit points of every city of the province to administer polio drops.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister formally inaugurated the 3-day anti-polio campaign in the province by administering polio drops to the children.
Separately, Punjab Health Parliamentary Secretary Dr Saeed Elahi said defeating polio was an utmost necessity for establishing a healthy society as well as development and progress of the country. He said curbing polio from the country was a national as well as international obligation.
He was inaugurating the anti-polio campaign at the Children’s Hospital by administering polio vaccine to the children. Representative of World Health Organization Dr Debra Bettle, Rotary Club Governor Anthony Richard, Saleem Khan, Children Hospital Additional Medical Superintendent Dr Jawad and other officers were also present on the occasion.
Elahi said polio disease existed only in three countries including Afghanistan, Nageria and Pakistan. He said all segments of society including ulema, teachers, parents, civil society and influential people should play their due role for eradication of polio from the country.
Earlier, Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi joined the Polio cause to encourage people to help eradicate polio from the country.
Afridi joined representatives of the national polio eradication initiative from the Prime Minister’s Monitoring and Coordination Cell for Polio Eradication, Rotary International, UNICEF and WHO to sign a memorandum of understanding. He vowed, “I will do my best to take the message to every doorstep of Pakistan. Reaching every child, every time with the polio vaccine is not only necessary, but it is our duty.”
Afridi’s tagline for polio eradication is ‘Bat or Crutches’ (‘Balla Ya Besaakhi’). The campaign supports the next National Immunisation Days from 16-18 July when over 34 million children under five years will be vaccinated.
Pakistan has had 22 confirmed polio cases in 13 districts in the first 6 months of 2012 – down from 58 in 24 districts during the same period in 2011.
However, this objective still remains a challenge with the ban imposed on polio vaccination by the Taliban and parents refusing to get their children vaccinated because of the fake campaign that was started by Dr Shakeel Afridi to help the US capture Osama bin Laden.