Polio vaccination campaign in Balochistan deferred

QUETTA: The polio vaccination campaign in Balochistan was postponed on Wednesday for an indefinite period due to a protest by the government staffers.

A five-day vaccination campaign against the crippling disease was scheduled to begin on Wednesday in 33 districts of the province. However, it was put off for a third time.

According to Quetta Emergency Operation Centre, the campaign to be held on April 5 had already been postponed.

Balochistan health department had postponed the vaccination campaign against polio across the province due to the ongoing strike of the government employees who have been holding a sit-in for the past week, a statement said.

“The campaign was postponed as health workers and other volunteers were not available due to the strike of the government employees,” said health officials.

Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan. The country is facing a challenging situation in polio eradication with the upsurge in the number of polio cases. In 2020, 83 polio cases were reported across the country, including 24 from Balochistan, 22 each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Sindh, and 14 from Punjab.

The government’s efforts to rid the country of polio have lately suffered setbacks due to attacks on vaccinators and police personnel guarding them. The deadly violence is also cited as a factor for the upsurge in new cases that had dropped to only 12 cases in 2018.

Strict security measures had been taken for the campaign and personnel of Balochistan Levies force, police and Frontier Corps (FC) would move with all teams of vaccinations.

In traditionally conservative parts of the country, many see the vaccine as a Western-led conspiracy to sterilise children. To deal with the situation, religious scholars, tribal elders and other people who have influence in their areas would motivate parents to get their children vaccinated.

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