Pakistan is one of three countries worldwide where the wild polio virus still circulates, but Rotarians are doing their part to change that and it appears these efforts are beginning to pay off. Last year, a total of 198 polio cases were reported in Pakistan, but so far in 2012 only 56 have been reported. Rotary’s National PolioPlus Committee in Pakistan, led by their chair Aziz Memon, has helped with the establishment of polio resource centers in four areas at high-risk for the disease, including Karachi, Sindh; Killa Abdullah and Pashin, Balochistan; and Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In addition to ensuring that children get immunized against polio, the resource centers also provide much needed basic health services to these underserved communities. The first center was inaugurated at Bright Education Society in Sindh Industrial Training Estate (SITE) Town and consists of two full-time doctors for general health care and six social mobilizers to speak with families who have refused the polio vaccine for their child. In many cases, access is limited in these areas due to security and so having a local center allows health workers to reach these families in spite of security challenges.
Rotarians in Pakistan are also conducting health camps, establishing permanent immunizations sites at local hospitals, and seeking the support of community leaders for polio eradication. As part of this effort, they have teamed up with partner organizations like Coca Cola Beverages Pakistan who provide access to billboards to help raise awareness about polio eradication, and transport for vaccines along with support for a range of other projects. “We are seeing progress in Pakistan’s fight against polio, and we are proud of the work our Rotarians are doing to support that effort,” wrote John Germ, vice chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. With these sustained efforts, we are hopeful that Pakistan will soon wipe out this dreaded disease within its borders, moving us ever closer to delivering on our promise of a polio-free world.
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