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Shahid Afridi joins the team to wipe out polio in Pakistan

Islamabad:Cricketing superstar Shahid Afridi and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime now has a new title to add to his many cricketing achievements: Polio Champion.

Afridi joined representatives of the national polio eradication initiative today from the Prime Minister’s Monitoring and Coordination Cell for Polio Eradication, Rotary International, UNICEF and WHO to announce his commitment to help ensure that no child is left unvaccinated and no child is paralysed by polio in Pakistan again. “It is an honour for me to donate my time to help to rid Pakistan of polio,” said Afridi. “I can deliver the message that reaching every child, every time with the polio vaccine is not only necessary, but it is our duty.”

Afridi hails from the Khyber Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and is from a Pashtun family. In 2011, Pashtuns accounted for nearly 77 per cent of all polio cases, but the group makes up only 15 per cent of the population.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to have Mr Afridi join the polio eradication team in Pakistan,” said the Focal Point for the Prime Minister’s Monitoring Cell, Mme Shahnaz Wazir Ali. “He is a true Pakistani hero and will help us deliver important messages to some of the hardest to reach areas of the country.”

The campaign to be launched on July 9 will support the next National Immunisation Days from July 16-18, 2012 when over 34 million children under-five will be vaccinated.

In the first six months of 2012, Pakistan had 22 confirmed polio cases in 13 districts – down from 58 in 24 districts during the same period in 2011.

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