World Polio Eradication Day

Our Promise: Polio-Free Pakistan

The Pakistan Polio Eradication Program has been striving to eradicate the devastating poliovirus from the nation since 1994. The initiative is driven by 339,521 dedicated and trained polio workers, the world’s largest surveillance network, quality data collection and analysis, behavioral change communication, state-of-the-art laboratories, and some of Pakistan’s and the world’s best epidemiologists and public health experts.

What exactly is Polio?

Poliomyelitis (Polio) is a highly contagious viral illness that primarily affects youngsters. The polio virus is disseminated mainly through the fecal-oral route or, less commonly, through a standard vehicle such as contaminated water or food. The polio virus replicates in the colon, from where it can infiltrate the neurological system and cause paralysis. 

Polio symptoms include fever, exhaustion, headaches, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and limb discomfort. The condition can induce paralysis in a tiny percentage of patients, typically irreversible. Polio has no cure and can only be prevented by vaccines.

The National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) is an annual document that details the program’s eradication strategy, strategic goals, primary areas of activity, and innovations, alterations, and enhancements that may assist the program in addressing chronic issues.

The National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) for Polio Eradication 2020 is now being implemented nationwide. According to the NEAP 2020, the program is devoted to preventing the spread of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) and vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2) in Pakistan.

To accomplish this purpose, the program is focused on the following objectives:

  • Stopping poliovirus transmission in all remaining WPV1 reservoirs through concentrated, enhanced national efforts and coordinated cross-border initiatives.
  • Detecting, confining, and removing all polioviruses from newly infected people as soon as possible.
  • Protecting public health by maintaining and improving immunity to poliovirus infection via excellent supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) and critical immunization (EI).

The NEAP 2020 also contains several daring efforts to prevent the poliovirus spread. Among these strategies are the following:

  • Changes to the timetable, structure, and spacing of polio eradication programs to provide adequate time for campaign preparatory activities such as social mobilization, community participation, and capacity building. According to the NEAP calendar, there will be three (3) National Immunization Days (NIDs) and three (3) Subnational Immunization Days (SIDs) in 2020.
  • Implementing changes to the program’s structure, data, procedures, and human resources. These changes result from rigorous management and communication assessments completed in 2019. These reforms necessitate a rethinking of roles and responsibilities, organizational structures, operational procedures, data collection and use, and data collection and usage at all levels of the polio eradication effort.
  • The creation and implementation of Communication for Eradication (C4E) efforts aimed at increasing faith in the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme and vaccinations. Strategies have been developed to engage stakeholders and influencers, refute myths about vaccination safety and efficacy, and address the underlying causes of parental and caregiver vaccine refusal.
  • The establishment of a new Area of Work focused on fostering collaboration with the Expanded Immunization Program. Pakistan intends to enhance children’s essential immunization coverage while also addressing broader health needs by providing extended packages that include health, nutrition, and WASH services through this work area. These initiatives will improve access to and utilization of healthcare services in communities suffering from various deprivations.
  • Continued synchronization of Pakistan’s vaccination schedule with Afghanistan since collaboration between these two nations is vital to stopping poliovirus within and beyond the shared epidemiological block.

Surveillance

Surveillance is a vital component of the Polio Eradication Programme. The organization can detect where the polio virus is circulating through its compassionate surveillance efforts. These initiatives include evaluating stool samples from children with acute flaccid paralysis (the virus’s most visible symptom) and testing sewage water samples from around the country.

Surveillance for Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP)

Finding and reporting children with acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) is critical in detecting polio cases. Acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) is described as the abrupt development of paralysis/weakness in any region of a kid under the age of 15. Each instance of AFP alerts the polio monitoring system to the presence of Polio.

This surveillance system determines where Polio is spreading and who is at risk. The isolation and identification of poliovirus from feces is the best current procedure for confirming the diagnosis of poliomyelitis. All stool specimens from reported AFP cases are examined for polio eradication at Islamabad’s Regional Reference Laboratory (RRL).

Environmental Monitoring

In addition to AFP surveillance, environmental surveillance improves the sensitivity of poliovirus surveillance. Ecological management includes looking for poliovirus in sewage or other environmental samples.

The number of environmental monitoring locations has grown in recent years, making it the world’s largest ecological surveillance network. There are already 60 environmental detection sampling stations nationwide in 40 towns and districts.

Surveys of Healthy Children’s Stools

The initiative performs stool surveys on children from high-risk areas who may be harboring the poliovirus but show no indications of paralysis or whose circulation has proven difficult to identify with standard AFP surveillance.

Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation have worked day and night to mitigate Polio as their top priority. They have a unique opportunity to help in the battle against Polio by taking huge risks and making unconventional investments. Two examples are investing in vaccine research and establishing emergency operations centers in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Hashi Group of Companies is making every possible effort as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility to put up with all the ongoing campaigns and efforts to eradicate Polio.  Chairman of Hashi Group of Companies, Mr. Syed Hashim Raza is also taking keen interest in the campaigns related to the eradication of Polio all over Pakistan.      

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