Pakistan responds to WHO polio alert by adding vaccination posts
The health ministry of Pakistan, the country with the most polio cases of late, has committed to setting up mandatory immunization counters for travelers at all its airports, border crossings, and seaports in response to yesterday’s World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of a worldwide polio emergency, according to a story in the current issue of Pakistan Today.
One of just three countries where polio is still endemic, Pakistan had 91 cases last year, compared with 58 the year before, and has had 59 of the 74 cases worldwide reported so far this year.
Polio immunization programs in the country have met with resistance, attacks, and even killings. Violent factions in the country see the immunization campaigns as foreign espionage, and many residents have been told the vaccine causes infertility. The other countries with endemic polio are Afghanistan and Nigeria.
The WHO stated that wild poliovirus has made inroads several countries previously declared polio-free, often spreading across borders as refugees flee violence in their countries. The organization called upon Pakistan, Cameroon, and Syria to ensure that residents and long-term visitors are vaccinated 4 weeks to 1 year before traveling outside their country.
Where time does not allow compliance with this recommendation, at least one dose is to be given before a person’s departure, the WHO advises. In additions, travelers are to be issued certificates of vaccination to prove their status.