Polio: children still at risk, need regular vaccination!

An official of the World Health Organization (WHO) was upbeat on Pakistan’s success in controlling polio but cautioned against recurrence of the crippling disease if the immunization process was not sustained.

Pakistan has successfully controlled polio as no cases of the crippling disease have so far been reported this year, World Health Organization (WHO) country representative Dr Khalif Bile said while speaking at a function, organized by the CDA’s Directorate of Health Services.

“However mothers should not be complacent and get their children vaccinated against polio regularly to avoid recurrence of the disease”, he cautioned.

Still, every child is at risk. We have to maintain and sustain the process of vaccination against polio. The disease exists in Afghanistan and some other neighbouring countries and children in Pakistan are vulnerable to it if preventive measures are not taken,” Dr Bile said.

When the disease has been fully controlled even then there is a need to remain cautious for another three years. Regular vaccination is of utmost importance, he added.

The WHO representative said polio had been in this region for the last hundred years, but it had successfully been controlled.

He said areas without polio were always vulnerable to an attack of polio if preventive measures were not taken at the right time.

Mr Bile said there was misinformation about polio. Most of the mothers think that one vaccination against the crippling ailment was enough for ever. But this is wrong because regular protective steps alone can stem the attack of the disease, he added.

He said there was still lack of knowledge about polio and many mothers remained unaware of the dangers it posed to children.

They refuse to administer polio drops to their children, he said, adding that such parents had to be informed about the disease and its repercussions. We need to explain to them and convince them to regularly administer anti-polio drops to their children, he added.

“People here need respect, explanation and convincing at the right time. There is always soft refusal from mothers. It is because they do not know much about the dangers the disease could pose to their children. We should not get discouraged or tired of such a situation and should use different ways to convince them. We can win over such refusals,” he added.

The WHO representative underlined the role locals could play in convincing such people. He said influential people of the locality should be included to take part in convincing efforts. Commitment, he said, was very important.

Later talking to this reporter, Mr Bile said there were seven lethal and crippling diseases which could be prevented through vaccination. These are polio, tuberculosis, tetanus, measles, hepatitis, diphtheria and whooping cough.

If preventive measures are not applied, these diseases could prove fatal. Out of these, hepatitis is emerging as the most dangerous in Pakistan, he said.

APP adds: A three-day national immunization campaign against polio will start on Tuesday to administer vaccine drops to more than 32 million children below the age of five across the country.

Over 60,000 children will be immunised against polio in the rural areas of the federal capital.

The district health department has constituted over 300 mobile teams for administering anti-polio drops to the children in the remote rural areas.

Twenty-five centres and five transit camps have also been established for the campaign.

Adviser on Health Education Mazhar Nisar said the federal and provincial governments had constituted 75,000 teams comprising 150,000 health workers and volunteers.

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