Pakistan to dispose of poliovirus by end of 2023: UNICEF

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ISLAMABAD: George Laryea-Adjei Sunday, the Regional Director of UNICEF for South Asia, expressed his satisfaction with the effective measures taken to combat the crippling disease and expressed his hope that the polio virus would be eradicated from Pakistan by the end of 2023.

Adjei stated in an interview with APP that the most recent data suggested the virus was now under control in the nation.

He stated, “We are using all available resources and services to reach every girl and boy in Pakistan with lifesaving vaccines and protect them against the disease that is completely preventable.”

He said the program is back on track to stop all wild poliovirus transmission and praised the efforts of over 350,000 health workers who traveled to every part of the country to give vaccine doses to every child.

Adjei stated that Pakistan is much better equipped than it was a year ago to eradicate polio. However, there were obstacles that made it difficult to completely eradicate the virus.

He praised the bravery of polio teams and expressed concern about the attack on health workers and polio patients in some parts of Pakistan.

He also praised the government’s efforts to eradicate polio and mentioned that Pakistan was the first nation to launch an ambitious program to train health workers to support national immunization campaigns.

He said that the back-to-back disasters of drought, heatwaves, floods, and acts of violence continued to put millions of children’s lives in danger in Pakistan, highlighting the difficulties.

He stated that the recent devastating floods damaged essential health facilities and increased health risks for millions of children, particularly those living in historically high polio-risk areas.

He said, referring to the effects of climate change: In 2022 alone, climate-induced floods in Pakistan, Bangladesh, northern India, and Afghanistan left over 15 million children in need of assistance. The impact is profound across South Asia.

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

Prior to the current emergency, the regional director stated, Pakistan was already a “climate hotspot.”

Pakistan’s children ranked 14th out of 163 countries and regions on the UNICEF Children’s Climate Risk Index as being at “extremely high risk” of the effects of climate change.

Pakistan has experienced a string of extreme weather events since April. This year, the country went straight from winter to a scorching summer, so there was no spring.In some parts of the country, temperatures exceeded 50 degrees Celsius, followed by devastating floods.

He claimed that these recurring and worsening climate disasters were directly putting children’s lives in danger and destroying infrastructure that was essential to their well-being.

He said that the only way to save children’s lives was for global leaders to urgently limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The UNICEF official continued, “We must prepare children to live in a world changed by climate change through climate change education and green skills training.”

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