Pakistan to annihilate polio virus: Immunization counters to be set up at airports
The government has planned to set up polio vaccination counters at airports to ensure children leaving the country are vaccinated against the polio virus.
According to official sources, the step is taken as a pre-emptive measure to reduce the possibility of spread of the polio virus beyond Pakistan’s borders.
They said Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell has advised all provincial governments and federal administration to set up permanent polio vaccination counters inside international departure lounges of all airports.
The Cell has already asked the Sindh Government to improve its polio immunization efforts to stop transmission of the polio virus in the province on an emergency basis. The Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Shahnaz Wazir Ali has said that importation of polio virus is a reminder of the risks associated with active polio virus transmission in the country, and stressed the need to make efforts to stop the transmission on urgent basis in Pakistan.
The Cell, World Health Organization, UNICEF and partners in Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Initiative have called for urgent pre-emptive measures against exportation of the polio virus after positive samples linked to the Sukkur District of Sindh were discovered in Egypt.
Two sewage samples collected from the Al Salam and Al Haggana areas of the Cairo district when collected and analyzed in a laboratory bore resemblance to a strain discovered recently in sewage water tested in Sukkur.
Though the virus has not infected any child in Egypt and the country remains polio-free since 2004, the Egyptian Ministry of Health has ordered immediate vaccination of all children less than five years in the localities near Cairo from where the Pakistan origin virus was discovered. Dr. Ahmed Omar of the Ministry of Health and Population in Egypt has stated that the Ministry will start a campaign to vaccinate children under-five against polio in Ezbet Hagana Peace and Kaliobeya in Cairo.
Recently, the Independent Monitoring Board had also recommended international travel restrictions for the three polio endemic countries under the International Health Regulations. “The assessment of the IMB reflects the global concern over Pakistan and other polio endemic countries, however regarding travel restrictions, it is understandable that every polio free country would like to maintain its polio free status and may consider taking steps to avoid importation of the virus” stated the Emergency Coordinator for Polio Eradication at the WHO, Dr. Elias Durry.
Pakistan has taken major strides in 2012 with a 71 percent reduction in the number of polio cases with all but 28 districts free of Polio virus transmission. Polio virus type 3 has not been found in Pakistan since April 2012.
- Asian Tribune -