Pakistan’s campaign to prevent polio from vaccine abuse – Global issues

Authorities in North Waziristan district in Pakistan, vaccinate children against polio.  With one reported case, intensified efforts to rule out the disease are underway.  Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai / IPS
Authorities in North Waziristan district in Pakistan, vaccinate children against polio. With one reported case, intensified efforts to rule out the disease are underway. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai / IPS
  • by Ashfaq Yusufzai (peshawar, pakistan)
  • Joint press service

The disease was detected in a 15-month-old child about 15 kilometers from the Afghan border. The area was considered a center of Taliban insurgency until 2014.

The Taliban were against polio vaccination, but vaccinations restarted after the fighters were driven out in 2014.

The boy’s family said he was vaccinated.

“The boy was vaccinated in every home polio vaccination campaign, but even after that, he still got sick. The toddler’s uncle, Naheedullah, said: “We are not opposed to anti-polio drops. “We are religious but never defied vaccinations.”

However, authorities objected to the family’s version and said that the newly infected child was not given the oral polio vaccine (OPV) because his family was among those they called “from refuse to be silent”.

Dr Shamsur Rehman, a health official in the region, told IPS: “Silent denials are people whose families protest that their children under the age of 5 have been vaccinated but they have not yet been vaccinated. vaccination. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 18,349 children remained unvaccinated due to family rejection during the March 2022 campaign. This is down from 19,874 recorded in December 2021.

Vaccinators also face threats from defiant parents – and as such, often document children who have been vaccinated to keep them safe from retaliation. More than 50 people have been killed, attributed to fighters, since 2012 in multiple anti-polio locusts, mainly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which has remained a virus hotspot for years, the country’s oldest newspaper said. Pakistan Dawn reported.

Religious scholar Muhammad Sami says that polio vaccines are not allowed in Islam, and so there is hesitation about polio vaccines. He said his team had “information” that the vaccination was a plot “to make recipients unable to bear children and reduce the Muslim population.”

However, others in the same area had a different opinion.

“We convinced parents to use OPV for their children because of their religious responsibility to protect their children from disease,” says Maulana Sagheer, adding that it is misinformation that vaccines cause infertility and infertility.

Zulfiqar Babakhel, a spokesman for the Pakistan Polio Program, told IPS that the discovery of this latest case of wild polio virus was not unexpected. Pakistan’s program, he said, has anticipated this risk and has come up with contingency plans to be able to react quickly.

It continues to ramp up efforts to eliminate all residual transmission of any strains of the polio virus.

“The ‘last mile’ has always proven to be the most difficult phase of national eradication efforts in all countries. Despite its challenges, the program is capitalizing on recent success and continues to strive to be polio-free. This is the most important moment of the show,” said Babakhel.

It is important to emphasize that the number of polio cases has decreased significantly this year due to the unwavering commitment of health workers and the community and the support of stakeholders, he said.

This is the third case of wild polio reported globally in 2022. The other cases are reported from Afghanistan and Malawi.

Last year, Pakistan reported a case of illness with onset on January 27, 2021, in Killa Abdullah district, Balochistan province.

Health Minister Dr Aamir Ashraf told IPS this is a tragedy for the child and his family. It is also a pity for both Pakistan and the worldwide polio eradication efforts.

“We are very disappointed but still not discouraged. This case emerged in South Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the polio virus was detected late last year and where an urgent action plan is being worked out,” he said.

“The Provincial and National Polio Emergency Operations Centers have deployed teams to conduct a full investigation of the recent case, while emergency vaccination campaigns are underway to address the issue,” he said. prevent further spread of wild polio virus in Pakistan,” he said.

Repeated immunization has protected millions of children from polio, allowing most countries to become polio-free, besides the two endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The next national polio vaccination campaign, scheduled for May 23-27, 2022, will target more than 24 million children under the age of five.

The anti-polio program has identified Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as the highest-risk area after wild poliovirus was detected in environmental samples in the last quarter of 2021.

National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) Coordinator for Polio, Dr. Shahzad Baig, said: “This validates the program’s concern about virus circulation in Southern KP and reinforces strengthen our commitment to reaching every child with the polio vaccine.

To address the challenges in Southern KP, the Government and global partners on polio have initiated an urgent action plan to address the challenges in this part of the province, he explained.

In 2020, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province reported 22 cases, while no cases of wild poliovirus infection were recorded in the region last year.

Significant progress has been made recently, with vaccination campaigns being available in most regions, but deep-rooted problems and security concerns remain in some places. Despite the challenges, the program’s frontline workers continue to reach children with life-saving vaccines.

The program is taking advantage of the momentum it gained last year and continues to strive for polio-free. Parents must continue to immunize their child with all immunizations until the child is 5 years old.

Pakistan remains one of only two countries globally with endemic wild poliovirus, along with Afghanistan. Polio is a highly contagious virus. Until this final epidemiological block wipes out polio, children worldwide remain at risk of lifelong paralysis or death from the polio virus.

Report of the United Nations Office IPS

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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