President expects Pakistan to become polio-free by next year


ISLAMABAD : President Dr Arif Alvi said Monday that he expected Pakistan to be free from the virus by next year.

The president spoke to media after the launch of a three-day nationwide anti-polio campaign and applauded them for serving the country despite facing life threats in certain areas.

The president was accompanied by Minister for National Health Amir Kayani, representatives of international organizations including World Health Organization and UNICEF besides senior government officers.

The president who earlier launched the drive by administering vaccine to two children living in a slum here also appealed the people to extend all-out support to the vaccination teams so that the country could get rid of the disease.

He also urged religious scholars to play their role to nullify the misconceptions about the polio vaccine.

The president lauded the role of armed forces and other security agencies who had been providing security cover to the vaccination teams.

In 2014, 306 cases had been reported, 54 in 2015, 20 in 2016 and 8 in 2017. In 2018, only four polio cases had so far been reported from two districts including three from Dukki area of Balochistan and one from Charsadda.

The health minister said the credit for the remarkable reduction in polio cases went to the vaccination teams who had been striving to protect the children from deadly disease.

He said Pakistan was one of three polio-endemic countries in the world with Afghanistan and Nigeria being rest two states.

The three-day drive would target a total of 38.6 million children aged below five including 19.22 million in Punjab, 8.88 million in Sindh, 6.75 million in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including tribal districts), 2.5 million in Balochistan, 0.7 million in AJK, 0.237 million in GB and 0.33 million children in Islamabad.

During this campaign, Vitamin-A supplement will also be administered to around 35 million children aimed at boosting immunity against all infectious diseases including measles.

A total of 260,000 personnel would strive to achieve the set targets across Pakistan.