A health worker marks the hand of a child after administering an anti-poliovirus vaccine to him. — Reuters

Polio cripples another child in Pakistan

by Pakistan News
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A health worker marks the hand of a child after administering an anti-poliovirus vaccine to him. — Reuters
  • Health authorities say new case takes Pakistan’s toll of poliovirus cases to 15 this year.
  • New case is 14th poliovirus case reported from North Waziristan this year.
  • Over 99% of world now is now polio-free except for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Poliovirus crippled another child in Pakistan as the country reported a fresh case of the paralysing disease from Tehsil Ghulam Khan of North Waziristan, despite health workers’ relentless efforts to vaccinate children amid flood-related obstacles and destruction.

The new case took Pakistan’s toll of poliovirus cases to 15 this year, health authorities said.

“A 17-month boy in North Waziristan has been paralysed by wild polio in the 14th case from the district this year. The child suffering from polio-induced disabilities had onset of paralysis on August 1,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHS,R&C) said, while quoting Pakistan’s Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health (NIH) on Friday.

This is the 14th case from district North Waziristan this year, the health official said, adding that all of the cases in Pakistan in 2022 have been reported from southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including 14 from North Waziristan and one from Lakki Marwat, The News reported.

He maintained that this last case puts the wild polio case count for the endemic countries at 16, with 15 cases from Pakistan between April and August 2022 and one case reported from Afghanistan in January 2022.

Polio campaigns have proven to be successful all over the world with over 99% of the world now polio-free. The only two remaining polio-endemic countries — Pakistan and Afghanistan — have reported 16 cases this year, with one case reported in Afghanistan in January.

“Despite the extreme climatic conditions, the Pakistan Polio Programme has continued the immunisation campaigns wherever possible. The ongoing national immunisation days started on August 22 and the polio workers continue to reach the children in all the accessible areas, braving heavy rainfalls and floods,” the official said.

On the other hand, type-1 wild poliovirus (WPV1) has been detected in three more environmental samples collected in August 2022 from districts Bannu, Peshawar and Lahore.

“Wild poliovirus has been detected for the sixth consecutive time from Bannu and the second time from Peshawar and Lahore in 2022. But it is pertinent to mention that no wild poliovirus has been isolated from human in these three districts this year. A total of six positive environmental samples have been detected in the month of August 2022, including four from Punjab and two from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the NHS official said.

The official maintained that the total number of positive environmental samples in 2022 is 17, saying six positive environmental samples were detected from Bannu, two each from Rawalpindi, Lahore and Peshawar, and one each from Bahawalpur, Sialkot, Islamabad, Nowshera and Swat.

“One positive environmental sample was detected in April, two in May, one in June, seven in July, and six in August 2022. In 2021, 65 positive environmental samples were detected in the country,” he added.

In order to mitigate the risks associated with the poliovirus detections from the environment in July and August 2022, a nationwide vaccination round is being implemented in August, which is in progress, he said and added that besides this, optimal vaccination of the high risk and mobile population/ children on the move is being ensured at the transit vaccination points all over the country.

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