Pakistan authorities said they are launching a five-day polio drive to eradicate the crippling disease from the country.
Officials said 100,000 healthcare workers begin working Monday to vaccinate 13.5 million children under the age of five across 36 high risk districts, including Islamabad, the capital.
“Our aim is to ensure timely and repeated vaccination of eligible children,” said Shahzad Baig, the coordinator of the national emergency operations center.
“High-risk districts are our top priority and we are keen to eliminate the polio virus from the challenging areas, while protecting the rest of the region, as well,” said Baig.
Twenty cases of the wild polio virus were reported this year in Pakistan, including 17 in the country’s volatile North Waziristan district, located on the country’s border with Afghanistan.
Pakistan has come close, several times, to eradicating polio, but militants have convinced some parents that the vaccines cause sterility, but there is no scientific basis to back such statements.
Baig is urging all Pakistani parents and caregivers to make sure that their children are vaccinated “instead of hiding them or refusing to take the necessary drops during all vaccination drives.” He said, “it is important to realize that the polio virus still exists in our surroundings, and no child is safe until all children are truly vaccinated.”
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.