The campaign is the first campaign against polio in 2021. Polio workers will try to vaccinate 40 million children across Pakistan. The Taliban and other militants regularly attacked the civilian and security forces accompanying them, as well as vaccination centers and health workers.
Despite the steady increase in cases of coronavirus, Pakistan on Monday launched a five-day anti-polio vaccine amid tight security, in the hopes of eradicating childhood paralysis this year.
The campaign is the first campaign against polio in 2021. The previous campaign took place last August – when there was a temporary decrease in mortality and morbidity from coronavirus – and included former Taliban strongholds bordering Afghanistan.
During this time, polio workers will try to vaccinate 40 million children across Pakistan and at the same time pursue social abstinence and other forms of protection against coronavirus, said Zulfiqar Babakhel, a spokesman for the polio program.
Additional drops of vitamin A will be given “to help build the immune system,” he said, adding that polio workers will donate gloves and face masks and go door-to-door during the campaign.
Recently there has been a steady increase in homicides from Covid-19 and a number of new diseases in the country. Pakistan has registered more than 504,000 cases of the virus, including 10,676 deaths since the first discovery in February. On Monday, it reported 1,877 new cases and 32 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Pakistan had hoped to eradicate polio back in 2018, when only 12 cases were reported. But over the years there have been outbreaks of new conditions.
Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where polio is rife, after Nigeria was last year declared free of wild polio virus.
Eradicating polio requires more than 90% of children to be vaccinated, especially in large-scale campaigns involving millions of health workers – a challenge under the coronavirus epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) originally intended to eradicate polio by 2000, the deadline was reversed and failed.
The Taliban and other militias often attack the polio and security forces accompanying them, as well as vaccination centers and health workers, claiming that the anti-polio program is part of a Western conspiracy to kill children or gather intelligence.
The attack escalated after it was revealed that a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign was used as a CIA tactic to hunt down al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was assassinated by US commanders in 2011 in Pakistan.