Islamabad, January 11 – Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated the first nationwide polio campaign of 2023 on Wednesday by urging parents and caregivers to ensure their children receive the essential two drops of the life-saving vaccine.

At a ceremony held at the PM House, PM Shahbaz Sharif administered polio drops to children and distributed shields among frontline workers from each province.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said his government’s resolve to eradicate polio from Pakistan remains strong, and with sustained, collective efforts and the support of parents, Pakistan will be able to interrupt the transmission of the virus this year.

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“I urge all parents and caregivers to open your door for our polio workers and bring your children forward to receive the vaccine,” he said.  “Children are the future of Pakistan. Their health and well-being depend on the decisions you take today. So, make the choice to protect them and all children from polio,” he added.

The three-day-long campaign will be held from January 16 to 18 with the aim to immunize more than 44.2 million children under the age of five against the disability-causing poliovirus. To boost immunity, children will also be given Vitamin-A supplements.

In the nine districts of Hyderabad division and seven districts of Karachi division, the campaign will be held from January 23 to 27 due to local government elections. A polio campaign has already been conducted in the seven polio endemic districts of southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from January 2 to 4.

This is the first nationwide polio campaign of 2023 and the first nationwide campaign after catastrophic floods inundated nearly one-third of the country and affected more than 33 million people.

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The Prime Minister lauded frontline workers for their services to the cause of polio eradication and distributed shields among them.

“I want to take this opportunity to personally thank you for your hard work and your sacrifices. Our nation is indebted to you,” he said.

Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said he presented Pakistan’s case at the World Health Summit in Berlin and racked up support for the vaccine from respected Islamic scholars such as the Grand Sheikh of the Al-Azhar University.

“In 2023, we will continue these collective efforts to make sure that we put an end to polio. Like children all over the world, the children of Pakistan too deserve a life free from polio,” he said.


Note for the Editor:

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free.

Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan.

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