Pakistan reports fourth polio case of the year

May 26, 2022

A resident of Mir Ali, the child had onset of paralysis on May 5. This is the third case from Mir Ali this year.

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A health worker is administering Polio drops to children during a country-wide vaccination campaign. -APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reported its fourth case of polio so far this year after the Pakistan National Polio Laboratory confirmed that a 13-month-old boy had been paralysed by wild poliovirus in North Waziristan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

A resident of Mir Ali, the child had onset of paralysis on May 5. This is the third case from Mir Ali this year. According to preliminary investigations, the child had not received any dose of the oral polio vaccine.

The southern districts of KP, namely North and South Waziristan, DI Khan, Bannu, Tank and Lakki Marwat are at highest risk of wild poliovirus. Bannu also reported two positive environmental samples between April and May this year, confirming that ongoing wild poliovirus transmission is not limited to North Waziristan.

All children confirmed with wild polio this year belong to North Waziristan, where more cases are expected due to high refusal rates and instances of finger-marking without vaccination during campaigns. The Pakistan Polio Programme has conducted emergency campaigns in the area, while children are administered vaccine at all entry and exit points from southern KP to the rest of the province and across the border to Afghanistan to control spread of the virus.

With the new case, the global count for wild polio in 2022 has reached five from endemic countries, with one case reported from Afghanistan in February.

“Another child in North Waziristan has been paralyzed by wild poliovirus. This 13-month-old child will live with disabilities for the rest of his life because of a virus that is entirely preventable. This is a collective loss for Pakistan,” said Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel. “Over 99% of the world is now polio-free. Our children also deserve a life free from this incurable disease,” he added.

“Parents don’t realize that every time they refuse vaccination or mark their child’s finger without giving them the polio drops during polio campaigns, they are exposing their children to lifelong disabilities. There is a huge cost to this practice,” said Health Secretary Aamir Ashraf Khawaja.

“All parents must realize the risk that wild polio continues to pose to children all over Pakistan. Please ensure that your children are vaccinated in the ongoing nationwide campaign being conducted in all 156 districts of the country,” the health minister added. The ongoing nationwide immunization campaign, which started on May 23, will continue till 27 May.

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