Wednesday September 22, 2021

Pakistan reports no polio case in six months

Pakistan reports no polio case in six months

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reported no case of polio in the past six months which has never happened before.

According to the focal person for polio eradication Brigadier Shehzad Baig, Pakistan has come closest ever to achieve the goal of polio eradication with no wild polio cases in the last six months and consistent decline in the number of positive environmental samples. The geographic distribution of the virus has been confined only to a few areas, the official explained.

A report on the status of polio by the ministry of health states that the Polio eradication programme has achieved similar results in the past at least once (having low case count), but the significant decrease in the virus in the environment simultaneously, is unique and heartening. It indicates that the virus is under immense pressure and finding it difficult to survive in the majority of the areas, says the report.

The News has also learned from the official that Novel Oral Polio Vaccine type 2 (nOPV2) is also being introduced in the country after being approved by DRAP.

Secretary Health Amir Khuwaja told The News that the challenges still exist such as missed children, refusals, and negative propagandas, but he assured that the authorities are making all requisite efforts to overcome these obstacles.

Explaining about the efforts being put in place, Mr Shehbaz briefed that to strengthen campaign operations, active community engagement & roll out of integrated health services in high risk areas were being ensured. He elaborated that they have been vaccinating the repeatedly missed children especially in core reservoirs of transmission as an effort to completely wipe out the virus from the country. "Program to eradicate polio is implementing all the key strategies to ensure high quality campaigns", the incumbent said. Further, additional teams for permanent and temporary transit points trained and deployed, The News has learned. He also revealed that orientation of DCs of key districts will also be planned this month.

More than 33 million children under five years received their vaccination during the sub-national anti-polio campaign, according to the health ministry. The campaign was conducted from 7 to 11 June in 124 districts of the country including all four provinces, Azad Jammu Kashmir and the federal capital Islamabad.

More than 225,000 "Sehat Tahafuz" frontline workers visited families and caregivers during the campaign to ensure vaccination of children from the crippling poliovirus.

According to another report, Dr Shahzad Baig said that with the great support of parents and communities, the programme achieved the campaign target; however, now is not the time for complacency. The current gains of the programme are fragile and can easily be reversed, especially during the upcoming season when the virus is especially active," said Dr. Shahzad Baig