Islamabad: Pakistan on Monday launched a nationwide anti-polio drive to vaccinate more than 43 million children after the third case of the crippling virus surfaced in the country last week.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated the second polio campaign of the year 2022 at the Prime Minister's house and assured that the government would take all measures to eradicate the crippling disease, according to a statement.

The vaccination campaign will be conducted from May 23-27 across Pakistan, it said, adding that the campaign aims to reach approximately 43.3 million children under the age of five with the life-saving polio vaccine.

Around 340,000 polio frontline workers will provide polio vaccines at the doorsteps across the country.

During the planned campaign, a supplementary dose of Vitamin A drops will also be administered to children aged 6 to 59 months.

The prime minister kicked off the polio eradication campaign by administering vaccination drops to some children, expecting that polio vaccination will reach to all eligible children especially in polio high-risk districts of Pakistan.

Addressing a gathering, he instructed the federal and provincial governments and district management to address the challenges of

persistently missed children, refusals and fake finger marking during the campaign.

He showed concern on three new polio cases in North Waziristan, fearing the spread of poliovirus in other parts of the country and across the border.

I urge all parents and caregivers to get their children vaccinated instead of hiding them or refusing to take the necessary drops during all vaccination drives. It is important to realise that the polio virus still exists in our surroundings and no child is safe until all children are truly vaccinated, Sharif said.

The programme is working in partnership with various segments of Pakistani society, including communities, local influencers, pediatric and medical associations, media, social activists, religious leaders and the Pakistan Cricket Board and many others.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus which mainly affects children under the age of five. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death.

While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the only effective way to protect children from the crippling disease.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world still trying to eradicate polio.

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