PM pays tribute to polio workers performing duty in harsh snow

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan met and paid rich tribute to the polio workers who braved harsh snowy weather to perform their duties, vaccinating children against the crippling disease in the remote northern areas.

The premier hosted the heroic polio workers at the Prime Minister House including Irfan, after a video went viral showing him making his way through four feet of snow in the mountains to administer polio drops to remote communities. 

Prime Minister Imran also tweeted out a tribute for Irfan. “Irfan is one of 260,000 heroes who reach out to children with polio vaccines in extreme weather conditions. His viral video has left every individual with a sense of awe & pride. This dedication is what will enable us to achieve our goal of a polio free nation,” the premier wrote. 

During the meeting with the polio workers, the prime minister also discussed strategies to keep the scourge of polio at bay.

Pictures and videos of polio worker Irfan struggling to walk in knee-deep snow to perform his duty in Swat recently went viral, as people praised the man’s determination and commitment to his work.

UNICEF Pakistan, in a tweet, also appreciated the long-distance travel of polio workers..

A number of polio workers have been attacked and even assassinated in the country, as Pakistan continues to battle polio for the past several years.

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling childhood disease caused by the polio virus and preventable through immunisation. Affecting mostly children under the age of five, polio — which has no cure and can only be prevented by giving a child multiple vaccine doses — can lead to irreversible paralysis.

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Countrywide polio eradication drive was launched on January 21. More than 39 million children under the age of five will receive two drops of the vaccine which will protect them against the polio virus. At least 260,000 polio workers and more than 31,000 teams are participating in the drive.

The number of cases in Pakistan declined from 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015, 20 in 2016 and eight in 2017. In 2018, 12 cases were reported.

A country must have no cases for three consecutive years in order to be considered to have eradicated polio by the World Health Organisation.