Pakistani authorities launched “special” anti-polio campaigns in the country’s southwestern Balochistan and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces. The polio campaigns were launched in KP’s three districts and Balochistan’s 10 districts.
According to Emergency Operation Center KPK, “during the 5-day campaign, more than 1.2 million children up to five years of age will be administered anti-polio vaccine drops.”.
In a separate statement, Sindh Caretaker Health Minister Dr. Saad Khalid Niaz announced that an anti-polio campaign had also kicked off in Karachi. The decision to restart the campaign was taken after the recent case of polio in Karachi. Dr. Niaz said “Resumption of the anti-polio campaign was inevitable after results of sewage samples from different areas were obtained.”
Earlier this month, Pakistan’s health ministry reported fourth polio case after a 24-year-old in the city was diagnosed with the disease. Dr. Niaz urged people to cooperate with polio workers and get their children vaccinated against the disease.
Pakistan and Afghanistan remain the only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. Islamabad’s efforts to eliminate the disease have been hampered by the masses. They suspect foreign entities to fund vaccination programs.
Many in Pakistan believe in the conspiracy theory that polio vaccines are part of a plot by Western outsiders to sterilize the country’s population. The masses’ doubts regarding polio campaigns were exacerbated in 2011. The US Central Intelligence Agency set up a fake hepatitis vaccination program to gather intelligence on former Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
Violent attacks on polio volunteers and security personnel guarding them are common in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar vowed last Tuesday that the government would resist “anti-vaxxers” and realize the dream of a polio-free Pakistan. He lamented that those who resisted polio vaccines were working for the “forces of darkness.”