Role of polio workers to eradicate disease in Sindh lauded

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KARACHI: Sindh Emergency Operations for Polio Eradication Coordinator Fayaz Jatoi has lauded the efforts made by polio workers in Sindh and the headway made in polio eradication in Pakistan.

He congratulated frontline workers for bringing the country to the brink of polio eradication.

On the occasion of the World Polio Day, Fayaz Jatoi pointed out that in 2014 Sindh had 30 polio cases, out of which 23 were reported from Karachi which was known as the hub of virus circulation. However, through the implementation of innovative strategies, Sindh has only reported one case of polio from Karachi so far in the current year; the only case reported in the province since April 2016.

He said that this improvement can be owed to the efforts of commissioners, deputy commissioners, health department and the teams of valiant frontline health workers who go door to door to vaccinate children.

“Community ownership of polio eradication effort is the key to success in defeating the virus,” he said. “We must take the community on board in polio eradication and these vaccinations are to safeguard the future of our children and they must be involved in every step of the campaign,” Jatoi added.

He further stated that approximately 60,000 health workers administer the oral polio vaccine to 8.6 million children below five years of age in Sindh, and it must be done repeatedly to eradicate polio from the country.

He also said that parents must understand that they need to give the polio vaccine every time it is offered until their children are five years old.

Polio vaccination has been endorsed by all private hospitals in Sindh and the Pakistan Medical Association and the Pakistan Pediatric Association have both reiterated their endorsement of the polio programme and repeated vaccination at the doorsteps.

In 2014, Pakistan had reported 306 cases of polio, and today the number is at a historical low of 5 cases (1 each from Karachi, Lodhran, Lakki Marwart Qilla Abdullah and Gilgit-Baltistan). This highlights the remarkable improvement in the programme.

“As we celebrate the World Polio Day we must raise awareness around this virus which is easily preventable through vaccination. Why should a child suffer from a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Fayaz Jatoi. He further added, “I urge teams to try and reach every child and I request parents to cooperate with the teams that knock at your doorsteps to provide your children with the protection they need against the virus.”

Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. It has no cure but there are safe and effective vaccines that can protect children from polio.

The oral polio vaccine, when given multiple times, almost always protects a child from polio for life. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection and that is why 250,000 workers go door to door to during every polio campaign in Pakistan so they can save children from disability.