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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Polio Free Pakistan Mother’s Vision-Daughter’s Mission Commemorative Postage Stamps October 10, 2009: (2009-14)

Polio Free Pakistan Mother’s Vision-Daughter’s Mission Commemorative Postage Stamps October 10, 2009:- Polio Eradication is the largest public health initiative in the world involving millions of health workers world-wide in a global campaign to rid the world of this disease that once crippled hundreds of thousands of children. In 1988 following resolution of the World Health Assembly, a world-wide effort was initiated to defeat polio through mass immunization campaigns.

In Pakistan under the leadership of the Islamic World’s first woman Prime Minister, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, a nation-wide drive was launched to defeat polio and save the children from being paralyzed for life by a disease that is preventable.

The first round of the national polio eradication campaign was held on 27th April, 1994. The then Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto launched the drive by administering the first polio drops to her youngest daughter Aseefa who was 2 years of age then and setting an example for mothers to follow all over the country. Addressing the launch ceremony at the Prime Minister House, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto said “To me all Pakistani children are like Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa and although I am the country’s Prime Minister, I am also a mother”.

Special polio centers were established all over the country where mothers and caretakers of children up to 5 years of age came in large numbers to get their children immunized against polio. The nation had responded to the call of their Prime Minister and the first polio campaign was a resounding success. The campaign then continued through the years reducing each year the number of Pakistani children falling prey to the crippling polio virus. According to official figures the country was reporting over 23,000 cases of polio each year before the initiation of the campaign which has dropped in 2008 to 117 cases.

By the year 2007 the number of polio cases had been brought down to just 32 with complete eradication in sight. However, the gains in the fight against polio were rolled back due to the unrest and militancy in parts of Pakistan with the country by the end of 2008 reporting 117 cases and the trend continuing during 2009.

The Government of Pakistan People’s Party which had initiated the campaign has resolved to face the remaining challenges and take the mission of their leader, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to its logical conclusion who had envisioned a Pakistan where no child ever would be paralyzed by polio, a disease that could easily be prevented and for which a vaccine was available in the country.

The present Government according the highest priority to polio eradication in the health sector had launched a number of new initiatives to improve coverage of polio vaccination and reach every child under 5 years with the polio drops.

The appointment of Aseefa Bhutto Zardari is a major stride taken in this regard. Aseefa was the first-ever child to receive polio vaccination in the country and has resolved to translate the vision of her mother in to a reality by advocating for and leading the polio eradication campaign nation-wide. Aseefa will reach out to mothers across Pakistan appealing to them to actively participating in each polio campaign. Two Commemorative Postage Stamps of Rs.5/- denomination, one with Urdu and the other with English Caption are being issued by Pakistan Post on October 10, 2009 to commemorative this major stride forward in protecting and preserving the health of the children of Pakistan.