As Pakistan enters the fifth month in its battle against Covid-19, another imminent threat that continues to endanger children in the country is the poliovirus.
Pakistan remains one of the only two countries in the world where the poliovirus still exists.
In the current year so far, a total of 59 cases of wild polio virus have been reported, including 21 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 20 from Sindh, 14 from Balochistan and four from Punjab.
Several celebrities, religious scholars and other known figures have come forward time and again to educate the public about the risks of the poliovirus, and how prompt and regular immunisation can safeguard young children.
Mehwish Hayat recently shared a message on her Instagram account, where she spoke about how the polio eradication team has also been involved in Pakistan's fight against coronavirus.
"The coronavirus helpline 1166 is actually the helpline for the Pakistan Poliovirus Eradication Program helpline," Mehwish shared. "This team is putting itself at risk to ensure the health and well-being of our families ever since the outbreak of coronavirus in Pakistan."
"The most alarming fact about the coronavirus is that it spreads fast and that it doesn't have a vaccine. Poliovirus, however, does have a vaccine. To ensure a healthy future for our children, it is imperative that they are vaccinated against the poliovirus as well as against other harmful diseases," urged Mehwish.
Actor Fahad Mustafa also spoke about how polio vaccination workers in Pakistan have been working day and night during the past five months to minimise the effects of the coronavirus.
Now that the polio immunisation campaign is kicking off again in the country, Fahad is urging the public to support the teams in their mission to promote a healthy Pakistan and get young children vaccinated regularly against polio and other dangerous diseases.
"As a father, I have always got my children vaccinated for polio on time," said Fahad. "It is our responsibility as Pakistanis to get our children vaccinated on time so that our country can be free of harmful diseases like polio in future."
Both actors starred in the film Load Wedding, in which Mehwish Hayat played a vaccination worker and the film also sought to raise awareness about the issue of refusals.
The actors' remarks come as a polio immunisation campaign is set to begin in the country on July 20 and after a nearly four month hiatus because of the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Regarding the safety precautions being taken in this context, the spokesperson for Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Sindh recently shared that the teams were taking all the precautionary measures that have been recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and that vaccination workers have been provided with sanitisers, masks, and gloves, so parents have no reason to fear or worry.
Ten billion doses of this vaccine have been given to three billion children across the world in the last decade, as a result of which 10 million polio cases have been avoided. It is important to mention that there is no cure for polio once a child contracts the polio virus, but each time children under the age of five are vaccinated, their protection against it increases.