Polio campaign starts in areas of Sindh & KP

Around 369 union councils in 15 districts of KP, 119 UCs in nine districts of Sindh selected for campaign, says NHS spokesman

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The plans for holding vaccination campaigns in a few areas of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa starting today (Monday) have been decided by provincial polio programmes.

Sajid Shah, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), said that about four million children up to the age of five will receive vaccinations during the campaign. He continued by saying that the provinces have made all of the preparations for the campaigns.

“Around 369 union councils in 15 districts of KP and 119 UCs in nine districts of Sindh have been selected for the campaign,” Mr. Shah stated. “The target is more than 2.1 million kids in KP and more than 1.8 million kids in Sindh.”

According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) representative, the campaign was organised after the polio virus was recently discovered in a Karachi sewage sample.

The virus was discovered in Karachi for the first time in ten months, the person claimed, who requested to remain anonymous because they were not licenced to speak to the media. “We were getting positive environmental samples from some areas of KP, though,” the official added.

The official went on to say that the discovery of the virus in Karachi’s environmental sample had raised concerns since it showed the virus was on the rise once more.

The national polio programme said earlier this month that the poliovirus had been found in an environmental sample obtained from Karachi’s Sohrab Goth neighbourhood. 11 months after a similar finding from Landhi in August 2022, the virus was found in the city.

According to the NIH representative, a sample was considered “positive” if the polio virus was discovered in sewage water.

“Samples of the local sewage water are a fundamental indicator to assess the effectiveness of polio programmes. Furthermore, the virus’s presence in sewage indicates that local kids’ defences have weakened, putting them at danger of contracting the illness, the doctor added.

Pakistan has been working to eradicate the virus since it is one of only two countries, along with Afghanistan, where it is still a problem. The last few years have been successful for the country. Recurring instances are still a problem for the government, though.

In March, the nation announced its first incidence of polio in 2023 when a three-year-old kid in KP’s Bannu area became the latest instance after there had been no cases for five months.

The centre of the virus in 2022 was KP, particularly its southern area, which includes Darra Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Bannu, South Waziristan, and North Waziristan. All 20 cases were recorded from districts in southern KP. Seventeen of them, two from Lakki Marwat, and one from South Waziristan were from North Waziristan.