ISLAMABAD, Oct 8: Even if Pakistan somehow roots out polio virus from the land by the target date of end of 2012, it will have to carry on polio immunisation campaigns until 2022, a visiting official of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) said here on Monday.
“Pakistan will have to vaccinate for another decade to ensure that the polio virus is completely eradicated and never afflicts its children again,” Helen Evans, deputy chief executive of GAVI told Dawn in an interview.
Ms Evans is here to extend GAVI’s support to Pakistan’s program to include vaccination against childhood pneumonia in its immunisation campaigns.
She said that pneumonia was the largest killer disease for children in Pakistan. One in five children born in Pakistan dies of pneumonia before reaching its fifth birthday.
GAVI will provide Pakistan $109 million to purchase pneumococcal vaccine up to 2016. She suggested Pakistan produce the vaccine locally.
Ms Evans said the world was watching Pakistan since its government gave the assurance at this year’s international health assembly that it is “committed to limiting the spread of polio virus”. Pakistan, along with Nigeria and Afghanistan, remains afflicted by the polio virus.
Last year the total count of children stricken by polio in Pakistan was 198. This year, the figure has touched 43 when the target deadline set by the government in its emergency plan is just two months away. Pakistan may miss the deadline.