Pakistan: 1 mn children miss polio vaccination due to unrest, floods



Islamabad: Almost one million children in Pakistan were left out of a polio vaccination drive which ended on Wednesday, due to unrest and floods, officials have said. According to data, around 998,569 children of the 32 million targeted during the three-day nationwide drive, backed by the government and World Health Organisation (WHO), were left unvaccinated, reports The Express Tribune.

WHO Senior Coordinator for Polio Vaccination Dr Elias Durry said the huge number of missed children was a ‘cause of concern’.

"While we can celebrate the achievement of vaccinating millions of children during every polio campaign, finding and vaccinating the repeatedly missed children should be the top priority of all the polio teams across the country," Dr Durry said.

Government health officials said that most of the one million children remained unvaccinated because of access issues, unrest in Balochistan province and flooding in many parts of Sindh. They added that many parents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still view immunisation as a Western ‘conspiracy’.

In less turbulent areas, health workers failed to carry-out follow up visits or make enough effort to visit houses "far away". Pakistan is one of only three countries where the highly infectious disease remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. There have been 30 confirmed cases of polio in Pakistan this year according to the government, 22 of them in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

ANI