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Four Polio workers from Pakistan receive prestigious award in France

Polio in Pakistan

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In a recent ceremony held at Pasteur Institute of France, four Pakistani polio workers have been awarded the prestigious Louis Pasteur award. Mohammad Khurram Shehzad, Syed Latif, Ms. Azra Altaf, and Aziz Memon were presented the award on World Polio Day to honor and applaud their services in Pakistan to remove the curse of polio from the country.

The crippling disease had created a massacre in the early 1980s. All over the world, polio vaccine campaigns were introduced to eliminate the disease. Since then more than 350,000 children have become a victim to this malady.
Most countries managed to eradicate polio country but a few remain including Pakistan. Pakistan is making day and night efforts to promote polio vaccines by starting campaigns every now and then. The four polio workers have saved the health of more than 15 million people.

The event was arranged by a vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur in Paris. A special guest at the event, Kimberly M Thompson, professor of preventive medicine and global health at University of Central Florida College of Medicine, said that India is already capitalizing on learning from its intensive countrywide polio vaccination programme to apply to other diseases.

India was declared polio-free to years back but presence of polio in neighboring areas risks this hallmark of India. Senior officials on the event highlighted the efforts of polio workers saying that the end of polio is near but it’s not here yet.

This clearly indicates we are not there yet, but it’s the best indication that we are not very far from finish line.

According to authentic published reports, some of the workers who tried to provide vaccination to the children in such areas were killed by brassbound extremists who believe that vaccinations sterilize children or that workers are agents from the west.

Speaking against this approach and reaffirming the importance of polio vaccine, Senior Director of Scientific and Medical Communications at Sanofi Pasteur, Joel Calmet, said that

For that we must ensure any remaining pockets of resistance are identified and we have access to children everywhere for vaccination

To ensure the earliest possible elimination of polio, a Global Polio Eradication Initiative program was established. It is made up of five groups: the CDC, Rotary International, the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Since 1985, the Rotary has provided with almost $1.2 billion and innumerable volunteer hours for the protection of more than two billion children in 122 countries. Mr. Musani pointed out the spread of Polio in Nigeria as well saying

Polio transmission is ongoing in Pakistan and Afghanistan and new cases of polio have also been confirmed in Nigeria

Expressing his ambition, one of the award winners Syed Latif stated

My dream would be that by World Polio Day 2017, every last case of polio has been eliminated from Pakistan.