Polio eradication a UN priority, says Guterres in Pakistan visit

UNICEF/Asad Zaidi A 13-day-old baby receives the polio vaccine in Gadab town, Karachi Sindh Province, Pakistan.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

In one of the last bastions of polio on the planet, millions of children are being given a fighting chance against the paralyzing and potentially fatal disease.

During his first official visit to Pakistan as UN Secretary-General, António Guterres stopped at a kindergarten in Lahore on Tuesday, as the country kicked off its initial nationwide polio campaign for the year.

While there is no cure for polio, vaccination can protect a child for life, and the campaign this month aims to reach more than 39 million children.

“Polio is one of the few diseases we can eradicate in the world in the next few years. This is a priority of the United Nations and I am extremely happy to see it is a clear priority for the Government of Pakistan,” said Mr. Guterres.

“My appeal to all leaders, religious leaders, community leaders, is to fully support the Government of Pakistan and other governments around the world to make sure that we will be able to fully eradicate polio.”

Misconceptions and mistrust

Along with Afghanistan, Pakistan is the only place in the world with wild poliovirus transmission, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last year, the country saw a resurgence of polio, with 144 cases; up from 12 in 2018.  So far this year, there have been 17.

In Pakistan, nearly one-third of children aged 12 to 23 months miss out on basic vaccines, either because they live in hard-to-reach areas, or due to misconceptions about the importance of immunization.

Veteran vaccinator Farzana Shakeel has been pelted with stones, shouted at, and even threatened during anti-polio vaccination campaigns in Karachi.

“To this day, many people in my community think that vaccines are a conspiracy to prevent them from having more children, or to harm them in some way,” she said.

Going-door-to-door to save lives

While at the kindergarten, the UN chief vaccinated three children against polio.

He also met with frontline workers from the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, a 265,000-strong force that goes door-to-door during vaccination campaigns to ensure as many children as possible are protected against the disease.

The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, which manages the procurement and distribution of over 1 billion doses of polio vaccines worldwide each year, supports the programme in Pakistan, including through leading in vaccine supply and strengthening partnerships with local communities to build trust in vaccines.

More than 60 per cent of the programme’s workers are women, and they are critical to rallying support from parents, caregivers and communities.

Vaccination points also are set up at railway stations, bus stops and other transit points nationwide, targeting children who are travelling or on the move, with some 1.7 million vaccinated in 2018.

Immunization activities and other measures are further coordinated with a similar programme in neighbouring Afghanistan, given the frequent population movements between the two countries.

Pakistan’s polio eradication programme currently is re-strategizing its operations and approach to better respond to increased transmission of the virus, according to the WHO Representative in the country.

Dr. Palitha Malipala said this includes incorporating high-level commitment to polio eradication across the political sector and ensuring that health workers are not targeted.

“We will continue to support the Government of Pakistan, who spearhead this initiative in country, to overcome the challenges of the last year and put in place robust measures to ensure a polio-free world for future generations,” he said.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Rohingya refugee shelters ‘washed away’ in Bangladesh monsoon rains: UN agency

Australia wildfires: communities must stay vigilant, urges UN weather agency

Amid pandemic detours, mental health matters

World’s Press Calls on the United Kingdom to Address Press Freedom Concerns

China Unlimited: the dragon’s long and winding road

COVID-19: Both WHO and Europe must learn from the current pandemic, say MEPs

‘Catastrophic’ healthcare costs put mothers and newborns at risk

Total US cases quadruple in one week – Today’s coronavirus updates

UN mosquito sterilization technology set for global testing, in battle against malaria, dengue

This architect explains why racist statues are no longer relevant and describes how to replace them

1 million citizens try to create a new EU institution

Mergers: Commission waives the commitments made by Takeda to obtain clearance of its acquisition of Shire

European Commission Joint Research Centre opens world-class laboratories to researchers

In Rwanda, high-speed drones are delivering blood to remote communities

Trump systematically upsets global order and trade: Where does this end?

ACP-EU Post-Cotonou: A Joint Parliamentary Assembly is non-negotiable

Can Europe and the US reverse their nationalist and xenophobic drift? Is the West becoming belligerent?

Chart of the day: These countries have seen the biggest falls in extreme poverty

UN postal agency ‘regrets’ US withdrawal

Why lay people don’t expect anything good from G20

Around 52 million in Near East, North Africa, suffering chronic undernourishment, new UN food agency report reveals

World Editors Forum President: Credible media vital in the fight against COVID-19 and fake news epidemic

Let Nagasaki remain ‘the last city’ to suffer nuclear devastation says museum director, as UN chief arrives

Further reforms will promote a more inclusive and resilient Indonesian economy

Trade in fake goods is now 3.3% of world trade and rising

Children of ISIL terrorists likely held in ‘secret detention facilities’, UN human rights office warns

EU allocates over €22 million to help Palestinians in need

UN chief commends African Union on adoption of institutional reforms

Migration: Commission takes action to find solutions for unaccompanied migrant children on Greek islands

Brexit: No deal without marginalizing the hard Tory Eurosceptic MPs

In the age of the tourism backlash, we need ‘destination stewards’

Even in the world’s richest countries, kids might not have what they need to learn at home

The EU Commission lets money market funds continue the unholy game of banks

This is how travel hotspots are fighting back against overtourism

Our indispensable problem: the paradox of modern plastics

Portraits show ‘dignity and humanity’ of Holocaust survivors, 75 years after Auschwitz liberation

India can soar in the robot age. This is how

Strawberries and child support; a Thai partnership

34 million Americans know someone who died after being unable to pay for medical treatment

Lebanon: UN rights office calls for de-escalation of protest violence

How tech can help businesses balance profit and purpose

US-China trade war: Washington now wants control of the renminbi-yuan

UN-backed intercultural dialogue forum urged to keep working to ‘bridge gap between the like-minded’

UN space-based tool opens new horizons to track land-use on Earth’s surface

EU to spend €6 billion on youth employment and training futile schemes

Further reforms in France can drive growth, improve public finances and boost social cohesion

World’s 1.8 billion youth must ‘have a say in the future of the planet’

EU free-trade agreements with Canada and US: imagine the fallout if put to national referendums

European Defence Fund on track with €525 million for Eurodrone and other joint research and industrial projects

The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

How to stay in shape and step up support for refugees

UN Children’s Fund chief condemns ‘horrific’ Kabul bomb attack

Hiring more female leaders is good for profits. Here’s the evidence

Is Europe misjudging its abilities to endure more austerity and unemployment?

How farms are getting closer to consumers in the pandemic

He died so I could live: UN peacekeeper pays tribute to fallen colleague

3 ways to rebuild trust in how we regulate technology

Climate Change: A Healthcare Emergency

INTERVIEW: Poverty, education and inclusion top new General Assembly President’s priority list

Commission calls on Leaders to pave the way for an agreement on a modern, balanced and fair EU budget for the future

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s