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Anti-polio vaccination drive begins in Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan

Press Trust of India 

A five-day anti-polio drive kicked off on Friday in Pakistan's northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where more than 6.7 million children under five years of age will be vaccinated against the crippling disease.

The campaign is part of a revamped approach adopted by the provincial government to achieve 100 per cent result, a top official said.

The Pakistan government had to suspend the anti-polio drive and post-campaign evaluation last year following the increasing number of attacks on polio workers in different parts of the country.

As many as 23,309 teams of trained health workers have been constituted and more than 30,000 security personnel have been deployed to ensure safety and security of the polio teams.

Minister for Finance & Health Taimur Saleem Jhagra, Minister for Information Technology Kamran Bangash and Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Kazim Niaz inaugurated the anti-polio drive separately.

Responding to a question, the Chief Secretary said that "though the last year was not so encouraging about polio cases, the provincial government was fully committed to eradicate polio virus from the province".

"The provincial government has revisited and revamped the entire polio campaign and it is being launched with a totally new and different approach so that 100 per cent result is achieved," the Chief Secretary said.

Jhagra said the polio eradication was a top priority of the government and urged parliamentarians to play an active role in their respective constituencies.

He said it was unfortunate that Pakistan was among the last two endemic countries in the world where polio virus was paralysing children.

Attempts to eradicate the crippling disease in Pakistan have been seriously hampered by deadly targeting of vaccination teams in recent years by militants, who oppose the drives, claiming the polio drops cause infertility.

Attacks on immunisation teams claimed nearly 70 lives since December 2012.

In January, two women polio workers were killed when unidentified assailants attacked a vaccination team in Swabi town of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

Last year in December, gunmen killed at least two policemen in an attack on a polio vaccination security team in Lower Dir district of the province.

In January 2014, three workers were killed while in late 2012, five workers including four female workers were killed in Qayyumabad area.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 14 2020. 20:08 IST