Pakistan, Afghanistan Mark Polio Day in Optimism for Eradication

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where polio is still paralyzing children, and Sunday celebrated World Polio Day (October 24).

Neighboring countries make up the block where the disease is endemic. However, compared to 53 cases in Afghanistan and 81 cases in Pakistan in October 2020, only one case of wild polio has been detected so far this year. According to World Health Organization officials, the number of cases to date in 2021 is the lowest ever.

File-Healthcare professionals administer polio vaccine to children in Karachi, Pakistan, on September 20, 2021.

The polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan faced challenges, especially over the past two years, as the polio immunization campaign was suspended for five months from March 2020 due to vaccine hesitation and a COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a reason to be optimistic,” said Aziz Memon of Rotary International, who coordinates the global polio eradication program.

Memon tells VOA that the reported decline in polio cases and negative environmental samples suggest a “positive outlook” for polio eradication in Pakistan and Afghanistan, an “unprecedented” opportunity to stop wild polio infection. Emphasized the need to use.

“We are currently in a high season of polio infections in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so maintaining polio immunization and surveillance as a top priority, especially as pandemics continue to threaten immune programs around the world. It’s more important than ever, “he said. ..

Memon said restrictions on civic movements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are one of the major factors leading to the recent decline in polio cases in Pakistan.

“During the pandemic blockade, intercity and intracity public transport remained suspended across the country, limiting many nomadic families from traveling to other cities in search of work opportunities,” he said. Said.

Memon said the resumption of the high-dose polio vaccination campaign and the innate immunity induced by the outbreak of wild polio over the past few years have also contributed to the reduction in the current number of cases.

Earlier this month, the Pakistani government reported that it had successfully vaccinated more than 40 million children nationwide with a polio vaccine in a third vaccination campaign this year in mid-September.

Afghanistan home-to-home drive

The United Nations last week approved a new Taliban government in a conflict-torn country, and now a home-to-home polio vaccination drive for all children under the age of five in Afghanistan is November 8 for the first time in more than three years. Approved announced to resume on the day.

“Given that Pakistan and Afghanistan are a single epidemiological block, this represents a great opportunity for both countries to reach more children with life-saving polio vaccines,” said the Taliban. Welcomed the decision to lift the ban on polio from home to home. vaccination.

Rotary’s World Polio Eradication Initiative was founded in 1988. The program reduced infections by more than 99.9% worldwide, immunized nearly 3 billion children against polio, and prevented more than 19.4 million paralysis cases. However, Rotary officials predict that “hundreds of thousands of children could be paralyzed” if polio is not eradicated within 10 years.

File-On March 29, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan, a healthcare worker administered polio vaccine to a child.

File-On March 29, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan, a healthcare worker administered polio vaccine to a child.

International eradications warn that the outbreak of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) is also a major barrier to a polio-free world and call for greater vigilance to respond promptly. I have.

Occurs when a sufficient number of children are not vaccinated in a particular area and the weakened live poliovirus contained in the oral polio vaccine begins to circulate and changes to a form that can cause paralysis. ..

“Multiple countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, are facing the outbreak of cVDPV type 2, and to address them, a new polio with less risk of transforming into harmful forms that can cause paralysis in a hypoimmune environment. A vaccine has been developed, “said Memon.

Pakistan, Afghanistan Mark Polio Day in Optimism for Eradication

Source link Pakistan, Afghanistan Mark Polio Day in Optimism for Eradication

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