'Shame' that polio still prevalent in Pak: Imran Khan

'Shame' that polio still prevalent in Pak: Imran Khan

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. (AFP file photo)

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that it was a "matter of shame" that Pakistan was one of the two countries in the world where polio was still prevalent.

Addressing the launching ceremony of the nation-wide 'Polio Eradication Campaign' in Islamabad, the prime minister asked parents to come forward to get their kids vaccinated against the crippling disease.

"To the mothers who are watching this, I request you to go to the health workers and get your children vaccinated yourself if they haven't been administered with polio drops," he said.

It is a "matter of shame" that Pakistan is one of the two countries in the world where polio was still prevalent, he said.

According to the WHO, only three countries - Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria - have never stopped transmission of polio.

Khan said that around four million children under the age of five would be vaccinated in the ongoing campaign.

Warning that the spread of polio would have repercussions for the country, he said "it would become very hard for our workers who go abroad, (as well as) for our tourists and businessmen".

The stigma of polio could endanger the tourism industry in Pakistan as it poses a threat of exporting polio virus, Khan said.

The prime minister Khan lauded polio workers for going across the country to provide anti-polio drops to children despite facing threats from terrorists.

Pakistan had made good progress against polio in 2017 when polio cases dropped to just 8, but they increased subsequently to 12 in 2018 and 98 so far in the 2019.

Attempts to eradicate the crippling disease 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 have claimed nearly 70 lives since December 2012.

A five-day anti-polio drive will kicked off from Monday in all 35 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including the merged districts wherein 6.75 million children below the age of five years will be vaccinated.

Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Kazim Niaz inaugurated the campaign by administering polio drops to a child in Peshawar on Friday. To ensure 100 per cent target achievement of the drive, 22,925 teams have been constituted. The campaign is focused on reaching and vaccinating every child for stopping transmission of virus and outbreak in the region.

The members the civil society, parents, teachers, media, ulema, public representatives and other opinion leaders should play a proactive role in strengthening the government's effort to curb the menace of polio virus once and for all.

Giving details about the campaign, Coordinator Emergency Operation Centre.

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