Anti-polio campaign kicks off in Karachi, FATA

KARACHI: Anti-polio campaigns began in Karachi and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas on Monday.


During a three-day campaign anti-polio volunteers will cover 188 union councils of 18 towns in Karachi. Over 24,60000 children under the age of five will be vaccinated in the drive.

To provide security to anti-polio teams who have in the past been attacked by terrorists, 6000 policemen will be on duty.

At FATA, in a four-day campaign 2900 volunteers will take part. The drive aims to cover 997000 children under the age of five.

In the drive held last month 98 percent children were covered while only one percent refusals were recorded, the FATA health department said.

The first case of polio this year was recorded in Sindh in February at Gadap Town, an area which has for a long time remained a hot-bed for the virus.

Last year, 54 children were diagnosed with polio in the country, 12 of them in Sindh including seven in Karachi alone.

Health officials claim that malnourishment increases chances of a child catching the crippling polio virus. Children therefore require over 10 doses of the polio vaccine to boost their immunity to a level where cannot be affected by the polio virus.

This year remains crucial for wiping out the virus from Pakistan, international aid agencies maintain.

Pakistan has fought a long battle with the polio virus. Anti-polio teams were attacked and volunteers killed after the Taliban misconstrued the campaign as a conspiracy of the West to wipe out the Muslim race.

Pakistan is among the only two countries of the world affected by the virus.