Pakistan will eradicate poliovirus by the end of 2023, according to UNICEF

Islamabad: George Laryea-Adjei, Regional Director of UNICEF for South Asia, expressed his delight with the effective steps implemented against the paralyzing disease and expressed hope that the polio virus will be eradicated from Pakistan by the end of 2023.

Adjei told APP that current statistics indicated that the country’s virus was currently under control.

“We are utilizing all available resources and services to reach every girl and boy in Pakistan with lifesaving vaccines and protect them from a completely preventable disease,” he said.

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He praised the efforts of over 350,000 health professionals who traveled to all regions of the country to administer vaccine doses to every kid. He said the program is back on pace to eliminate all wild poliovirus transmission.

According to Adjei, Pakistan is in a better position now to eradicate polio than it was a year ago. However, some obstacles hampered efforts to eradicate the virus.

He voiced concern over the attack on polio and health workers in various parts of Pakistan and praised the polio teams’ bravery.

He also praised the government’s polio eradication efforts, recalling that Pakistan was the first to establish an ambitious program to train health workers to assist national immunization programs.

Highlighting the difficulties, he stated that the onslaught of back-to-back calamities — drought, heatwaves, floods, and acts of violence — continued to endanger the lives of millions of children in Pakistan.

He claimed that the recent disastrous floods devastated essential health facilities and aggravated health risks for millions of children, particularly those living in polio-prone zones.

“The impact is substantial throughout South Asia,” he said, “and in 2022 alone, climate-induced floods in Pakistan, Bangladesh, northern India, and Afghanistan left nearly 15 million boys and girls in need of assistance.”

He noted that summers were becoming hotter, glaciers were melting, rising sea levels and landslides were destroying homes and schools.

Before the present crises, Pakistan was already a “climate hotspot,” according to the regional director.

Children in Pakistan were ranked 14th out of 163 nations and regions in UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index as being at “very high risk” of the effects of climate change.

Pakistan has been plagued by a succession of catastrophic weather events since April. There was no spring this year, with the country transitioning from winter to a sweltering summer. Temperatures in certain sections of the country exceeded 50 degrees Celsius, resulting in disastrous floods.

He claimed that recurring and worsening climatic disasters endanger children’s lives and damage infrastructure vital to their well-being.

First and foremost, he advised that global leaders urgently restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as this was the only way to save children’s lives.

“Through climate change education and green skills training, we must educate children to live in a climate-changed future,” the UNICEF official continued.