Back to square one


Dreams of a 15-month-old boy were shattered after he was left paralyzed by wild poliovirus ending hopes of the entire nation to be polio-free.

The first case to be reported in over 15 months was from Bannu district earlier this month.

Confirming the reports, Secretary Health Aamir Ashraf said that it was a tragedy for the child and his family and it is also very unfortunate both for Pakistan and polio eradication efforts all over the world.

“We are disappointed but not deterred,” Ashraf said.

“The case has appeared in Southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the poliovirus was detected in the environment late last year and where an emergency action plan is already being implemented,” he added.

He further added that The National and Provincial Polio Emergency Operations Centres have deployed teams to conduct a full investigation of the recent case, while emergency immunisation campaigns are underway to prevent further spread of the wild poliovirus in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reiterated his government’s strong commitment for eradication of polio from the country.

In a tweet on Tuesday, he said there will be zero tolerance for any laxity in our national fight against polio.

“Our anti polio drive will now focus on the districts of South Khyber Pakhtunkhwa particularly, Bannu and North and South Waziristan,” he added.

Shehbaz Sharif said the best performing officials will be acknowledged and recognised as national heroes.

A total of 22 cases were reported from K-P in 2020.

Pakistan remains one of only two countries in the world with circulating wild poliovirus, together with Afghanistan. Polio is a highly infectious virus and until this last remaining epidemiological bloc wipes out polio, children all over the world remain at risk of life-long paralysis or fatality by the poliovirus.

Wild poliovirus types 2 and 3 have been eradicated globally, while WPV1 cases are at a historic low. Two other WPV1 cases have been reported this year, one each in Afghanistan and Malawi.

Substantial progress has been made recently, with most areas accessible to implement immunisation campaigns, but deep-rooted problems and security concerns remain in limited areas.

The K-P province reports the most number of refusals.

In April 2019, more than 25,000 children were taken to hospital after the spread of unfounded rumours that a polio vaccine was causing sickness.

Moreover, polio campaigns are often marred by attacks on the polio teams.

In the most recent attacks earlier this year, a policeman guarding polio workers was martyred in Kohat.

Militants in Pakistan often target polio teams and police assigned to protect them, falsely claiming the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.


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