Pakistan launches vaccination drive in push against polio


Pakistan on Monday launched its first door-to-door campaign of the year to vaccinate millions of children against polio, an official said. "The five-day campaign will target 39.2 million children under the age of five," said Babar Bin Atta, the prime minister's spokesman for polio matters.

More than 260,000 health workers were engaged as the country launches a push to eradicate the crippling disease. Pakistan and Afghanistan are among only a few countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

The UN-funded vaccination campaign has, however, helped Pakistan to control the spread. A total of 12 cases of polio were reported in 2018 compared to 306 in 2014.

The disease, which can cripple children for life, is more common in the country's mountainous north-west region near the Afghan border, which until recent years had been under the control of militants linked to al-Qaida.

The militants have killed a number of health workers and police guarding them because of rumours that the polio vaccine was aimed at making Muslim children sterile. A series of military offensives have been launched against the militants since 2014 to make sure workers could reach children in previously inaccessible areas.    (dpa)

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