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August 29, 2011

Pak polio eradication plan success spills over to China


August 29, 2011

The Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan received a massive blow this week when four infants in China s Xinjiang province were detected with poliovirus having generic links to the virus in Pakistan. The development has put Asia s largest country and the world s largest populated country in danger of losing its 11-year-old polio-free status.
According to the Xinjiang Department of Health, the four children aged between four months to two years belong to the Hotan prefecture of the province. The cases were reported from July 3 to 17.
According to information available on the website of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed importation of the virus from Pakistan. Gene sequencing has revealed that the virus has a 100 per cent resemblance with the wild poliovirus that caused the outbreak in Pakistan.
Terming the incident one of its kind, health experts placed the blame on field officials. Pakistan has reported a record 72 polio cases so far this year, that too when 2011 has been declared by the president and the prime minister as the Emergency Year for Polio Eradication. It seems that the Polio Emergency Year will go down in the history of Pakistan as the darkest year for polio eradication. The importation of the virus to China is yet another demonstration of the country s shameful performance in eradicating polio during the ongoing year, a health official remarked. Every year, the crafty scientists of the polio eradication initiative coin new technical excuses to conceal their failure. These excuses include inaccessibility, flash floods, fragile security, and poor sanitation, to name a few. This year, they are blaming Balochistan for the recent outbreak of the virus.
Another matter of concern is the increasing number of P1 polio cases, which are far more lethal than the P3 virus. Out of the 72 polio cases reported so far in Pakistan, 71 are P1 type cases, which

clearly indicates that the poliovirus is on the loose, and that the coming days will be even darker for polio eradication.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been speculations of Pakistan heading in the direction of registering close to 300 cases during 2011. The country topped the list of the world s poorly-performing last year by reporting 144 polio cases. In contrast, India has reported only a single polio case so far this year and is currently seen as the best performing country in the list of polio endemic countries. Afghanistan and Nigeria have reported 13 and 25 polio cases respectively.

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