Pakistan launches countrywide polio eradication drive
KARACHI (Reuters) – Pakistan launched a nationwide polio vaccination drive this week to reach 38.7 million children and eradicate the paralyzing and potentially deadly virus.
Nearly 260,000 volunteers and workers fanned out across Pakistan in an effort to vaccinate every child below the age of five in a week-long campaign, Pakistan’s national coordinator on polio, Mohammad Safdar, said.
“We’re really very close to eradicating the disease,” Safdar told Reuters, appealing to the people to cooperate with the door-to-door effort that continues all week.
Aziz Memon, who heads the Rotary’s PolioPlus program that funds many of the immunization teams, said this year the drive was also making a renewed effort to reach migrants who come back and forth from Afghanistan.
“Mission number one is to get to zero cases and eradicate polio,” Memon said.
A country must have no cases for three consecutive years in order to be considered to have eradicated polio by the World Health Organisation.