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Misbah backs polio drive in Pakistan

DUBAI: Pakistan cricket captain Misbah-ul Haq pledged his backing to the international bid to rid the world of polio. 

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) marks October 24 as ‘World Polio Day’ with Pakistan and Australia cricket teams dedicating the ongoing first Test to the fight to end the disease. 

According to UNICEF figures, when the global effort to eradicate polio was launched in 1998, 350,000 children were paralysed by polio each year in 125 countries. That number has now been reduced by more than 99 percent. 

Only three countries are not polio-free – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. This year, only 247 cases have been reported worldwide, but more than 85 percent (210) of those are in Pakistan. 

Misbah said his team is wholeheartedly behind the campaign against polio. 

"My team and I really want to be the part of this campaign. Everybody is thinking why Pakistan is one of three countries where polio exists, so we must hit polio out of the country for a six," said Misbah. 

"As a player we have achieved so much in our lives we would also want all other kids to play. I request all the parents to have their children vaccinated so they can be healthy and active citizens of Pakistan." 

UNICEF praised both teams' support. 

"Pakistan now holds the key to global polio eradication in its hands," said UNICEF in a press release. 

"As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from the last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years, across the world."

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