Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Ms Sharmila Farooqui said on Saturday that Pakistan has so far reported 84 polio cases in 2020 out of which 22 cases are from Sindh, 26 from Balochistan, 22 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 14 from Punjab. The country reported 147 polio cases in 2019, 12 in 2018, eight in 2017, 20 in 2016 and 54 in 2015. “Our polio children are precious like our atomic assets; therefore, we will have to protect them like protecing atomic assets. Lady health workers working in polio campaigns are our solders, she said while addressing a seminar at DC South office in Karachi on Saturday. The seminar was arranged by DC South. DC South, ADC and DHOs were also present on the occastion. Sharmila also presented appreciation certifiates to lady health workers who showed best performacne in previous polio campaigns. She said that there are more than 3000 polio centres across Sindh province through which Sindh health department is providing service to the polio patients. Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that mainly affects children, particularly under the age of five years. The polio virus is transmitted through contaminated water and food. This disease spreads from person to person. The polio virus attacks the nervous system which causes paralysis mostly in the lower limbs of children and it is often permanent,” she said while addressing a seminar in Karachi today. The seminar was arranged by DC South, ADC and DHOs were also present on the occastion. Sharmila also presented appreciation certifiates to lady health workers who showed best performacne in polio campaigns. Sharmila said that Sindh is the province most affected by COVID-19 in the whole of the country as a result, essential immunisations coverage suffered by 20%. The second wave of COVID-19 is underway which is feared to be more worse. Despite this, essential services of routine immunisation and polio campaigns would continue. Sindh conducted anti-polio campaign in Karachi in July 2020, followed by regular campaigns in August, September and October 2020 and then in November and December. She said According to a report, in October 2020, Sindh achieved 97% coverage overall, with 93% in Karachi. However, the level of refusals still raises concern. In the August 2020 campaign, there were 120,000 refusals in Karachi, which reduced to 102,000 in September and 82,000 in October. The PPP MPA said that the provincial health team is forging alliances on polio with major political leaders and macro-level influencers across political parties, with a specific focus on active involvement of Pashtun influencers. Sharmila said” “Political and tribal leaders have been mapped and engaged and are now supporting polio campaigns. A memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Islamic Medical Association, which is now actively highlighting the importance of immunisation and dispelling myths and rumours in the community about polio vaccine.” She said that on religious grounds and some faiths, people, particularly Pakhtuns, in some areas of Karachi, including Korangi and Baldia, are reluctant to administer polio drops to their children. However, the Sindh government was holding meetings with religious and other political parties leaders to end this misconception. These misconceptions are because of negative social media which has played havoc with the programme. Negative videos on WhatsApp and Facebook have heavily contributed to misconceptions about polio drops, she added. The Sindh government is striving hard to make polio campaigns more comprehensive to get 100 percent results and that is why health sector has been included among its top three priorities, Sharmila concluded. Sindh-wide anti-polio drive will begin from 11th Jan 2021 in which polio drops will be administered to approximately nine million children under 5 years of age in 29 districts of the province. Out of these more than 2 million children reside in Karachi. To further boost immunity, children from 6 to 59 months of age will also be provided vitamins.