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May 17, 2019

Six-month-old crippled for life after family refuses polio vaccine in Gulshan-e-Iqbal

Karachi

May 17, 2019

Refusing to get children vaccinated against polio has resulted in permanent disability for an infant in Karachi. Polio Eradication Initiative officials said on Thursday that a six-month-old from Gulshan-e-Iqbal’s union council 12 who was never administered oral polio vaccine (OPV) had tested positive for the virus.

“Refusals caused by misinformation and propaganda against vaccination have led to another polio case in Pakistan; this time in Karachi, as a six-month-old boy, Abdul Nasir, son of Abdul Qahar, tested positive for the polio virus,” said Umar Farooq Bullo, coordinator, Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for Polio in Sindh.

Officials said the infant’s parents and grandmother never let the boy be administered polio drops whenever vaccination teams visited their house on Abul Hasan Ispahani Road, adding that the parents admitted that they used to hide or send the child away to relatives during the polio vaccination campaigns to prevent him from being administered OPV.

Officials said that the number of polio cases reported across the country has now reached 17, including three cases in Sindh, adding that two of the cases in the province are of Karachi, while the third of Larkana.

National and international experts fear a sharp rise in polio cases in the country this year due to baseless propaganda, killing of polio workers in Balochistan, rumours spread on social media as well as confusion among parents because of frequent, back-to-back campaigns.

These experts say that refusal cases have been at an all-time high this year due to fake news and videos as well as propaganda being spread against the polio vaccine. Speaking about the latest polio case, a spokesman for the EOC Sindh said that according to the parents of the affected child, the baby had developed a low-grade fever on April 28 so they took him to a nearby private hospital for consultation.

The fever was followed by weakness in both lower limbs the following day, after which the consultant decided to send the stool samples of the child for analysis, and the report confirmed that he is affected by the polio virus, he added.

Officials said that due to a recent incident in Peshawar, where a man made a propaganda video and spread it on social media, thousands of people refused to get their children vaccinated against polio, adding that even in Sindh, hundreds of parents are refusing to get their children vaccinated against the crippling disease.

They said that some of the parents have grown tired of getting OPV administered to their children every month, while in some cases, polio teams have been knocking on their doors twice or thrice a month, which is also very irritating for the parents. They added that this exercise is being carried out to eradicate the crippling disease from the country.

“Permanent disability of a healthy child only because of baseless propaganda against the polio vaccine is deplorable. This is why we have repeatedly been raising awareness that please vaccinate your children with two drops of the polio vaccine every time they are offered. Please do not refuse and put their future in danger,” said Bullo.

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