About the Author: Alberto Rodriguez serves as Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.
The United States is helping to protect children in Pakistan from diseases such as polio and measles by supporting a mass vaccination campaign in 30 high-risk, flood-affected districts of Pakistan, including 11 districts in Punjab.
The campaign to vaccinate children against measles and polio was launched January 17, 2011, at a ceremony at the Government Mian Mohammad Munshi Hospital in Lahore. The campaign will provide more than seven million children under five years of age with vaccinations against measles and polio along with doses of vitamin A.
Mr. Paul Sabatine, Acting Deputy Mission Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Lahore, and Dr. Saeed Elahi, Parliamentary Secretary Health, Punjab, participated in the ceremony.
This campaign is one aspect of a broad-based U.S. commitment to bettering the health and well-being of Pakistanis.
"The Mass Vaccination Campaign for Measles and Polio provides a key opportunity for the governments of the United States and Pakistan to work together to counter the threat that measles and polio pose to the children of Pakistan," Mr. Sabatine said. "Vaccinating the children of Pakistan will help control these diseases and stop children from dying unnecessarily."
Vaccine-preventable diseases have been a special threat to children in Pakistan since the 2010 floods, which produced unsanitary living conditions and disrupted public health services. In 2010 more than 21,000 people died from measles and 140 people were affected by polio in Pakistan.
Funded by a $5.61 million grant from USAID, the mass vaccination campaign aims to vaccinate 5.4 million children in Punjab. As feasible, the campaign will also provide children under the age of two and pregnant women with other routine vaccinations against such diseases as tetanus, tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis-B, and Hib disease type B.