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Pakistan Launches New Polio Vaccination Drive

A health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a polio vaccination campaign in Karachi on June 7.

Pakistan has launched a five-day anti-polio campaign to vaccinate more than 30 million children under the age of 5.

Officials say about 223,000 health workers will spread out across the South Asian country to administer the oral drops against the highly infectious, water-borne disease that can cause irreversible paralysis.

In the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, health officials told RFE/RL that more than 6 million children were set to get the anti-polio drops.

Officials say more than 40,000 police officers have been deployed to ensure their security of the more than 30,000 mobile teams going door-to-door.

Previous anti-polio campaigns have been hampered by some parents’ refusal to have their children vaccinated.

Scores of health workers and police guarding them have been killed by militants over the past decade over claims the vaccination campaigns were intended to sterilize children and that health workers were acting as spies.

Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan are the only two remaining countries in the world where polio is still prevalent.

Only one case of polio has been officially reported in Pakistan so far this year, in the southwestern Balochistan Province.

In 2020, a total of 84 cases were registered in the country, including 22 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 26 in Balochistan.

With reporting by dpa