Signs of change

Police and students band together to build support for polio eradication in Pakistan

.All around the world they’re much the same… they’re red and round with big bold lettering.

But in Islamabad, Pakistan, drivers may have cause to pause and look again. For on these signs, that insistent ‘STOP’ is followed by the word ‘polio’.

These unique stop signs are part of a broader initiative launched by the Inspector General of Police, Sikander Hayat, in Islamabad last month. Called ‘Signs of Life’, it is a campaign developed by Islamabad Police to educate the public on the importance of immunizing children against polio.

The Inspector General explained that this initiative is taking Islamabad Police’s commitment to ‘protect and prevent’ one step further:

“Just as polio drops protect you against life-long paralysis and death, wearing seatbelts and helmets also provides protection by saving one’s life.”

Signs carrying the image of a child being vaccinated now appear alongside signs encouraging road users to buckle their seatbelts or reduce speed. And while parents wait at police-run security checkpoints, their children can be immunised. Fifteen vaccination booths have been set up near these checkpoints, with students from Bahria University assisting local health workers to reach every child under five who passes by.

“It is my first time being a volunteer and I feel very proud to contribute to help Pakistan to eradicate polio,” said student volunteer Zubaria. “This is definitely a very valuable experience of my life which I will never forget.”

Pakistan is the only one of the three polio-endemic countries to have seen an increase in cases this year.

Integral to the success of Pakistan’s polio eradication effort will be the commitment of the Pakistani people and how far they will go to ensure that every child is protected against this disease. Initiatives like this are helping to build the groundswell of public support needed to finally topple this disease.

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