Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Programme has established a round-the-clock ‘Polio WhatsApp Text Helpline’ service. The announcement was made on social media by Babar Bin Atta, the Prime Minister’s focal person on polio eradication, on September 3.
The aim of launching this service is to facilitate citizens regarding any queries they might have about this crippling disease.
According to an official of the National Emergency Operations Centre, citizens can approach the helpline directly for redressal of their polio-related issues such as complaints, suggestions or sharing of any relevant information. Citizens can make contact by sending a text or WhatsApp message to the helpline number 0346-7776546, he added.
Polio, short for poliomyelitis or infantile paralysis, is one of the most worrying childhood diseases in Pakistan. It is a highly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus and mainly affects children under the age of five. A few days after being infected by the virus, muscle stiffness, nausea and fever breaks out in the human body. In severe cases, there is paralysis of the muscles leading to a permanent disability or even death.
The disease can be easily prevented if children are vaccinated against polio. Multiple doses of the polio vaccine are required for it to be effective and to increase protection against the virus.
To date, Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world where children are still being infected by the polio virus.
So far, 60 cases of the polio virus have been reported this year, with most of the cases originating from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. The tally is five times higher as compared to the cases reported in 2018 and 7.5 times higher than in 2017.