Pakistan moves to end polio in the face of conflict
Rotarians and friends turn out for Karachi's walk against polio. Photo courtesy of Aziz Memon
Pakistan's effort to eradicate polio is moving ahead, despite the displacement of up to one million people by the military conflict in the country's North-West Frontier Province.
Among the positive developments reported by the World Health Organization:
- As of 19 May, nine immunization teams had vaccinated almost 17,900 children under age five on the three main transit routes out of the conflict zone.
- More than 87,000 displaced people are living in 26 camps in the province. Mobile teams have gone tent to tent to immunize 6,890 children and are deployed at registration points to vaccinate newcomers.
- Almost 870,000 people -- about 90 percent of the total displaced population -- have registered as living with relatives or friends. Immunization teams are being trained to cover communities hosting displaced families to ensure that the children are vaccinated against polio and receive vitamin A supplements during National Immunization Days (NIDs) 28-30 May. Subnational Immunization Days are scheduled for 22-24 June.
WHO officials say it is vital to reach children of displaced families, because access to these children has been hampered by the poor security situation in the province.
To promote the upcoming NIDs, aimed at reaching 33 million children nationally, Rotarians and social workers joined a walk against polio in Karachi on 21 May, led by the city's deputy mayor, Nasreen Jalil.
"After the walk, the deputy mayor gave polio drops to kids and appealed to all citizens to participate," says Aziz Memon, a member of the Rotary Club of Karachi, Sind, and past governor of District 3270 (Afghanistan; Pakistan). "Because of the presence of the deputy mayor, the event was covered by all print and electronic media and will create a lot of awareness."