November 7, 2019 | Islamabad

The Pakistan polio programme has detected transmission of Sabin-Like Type 2 Derived (SLT2D) poliovirus through its disease surveillance system.

The virus has caused seven cases of paralysis in recent months, mainly in the Northern parts of the country. Outbreaks of polio occur where a large number of children are under-immunized.

The only way to reduce the risks of further transmission is to address gaps in immunization coverage.  The programme is working on a comprehensive outbreak response that includes rounds of vaccination in the area to protect every child under the age of five years.

The programme has also enhanced its acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance by active search for additional cases, increasing testing of contacts of cases and strengthening environmental surveillance. 

Outbreaks of the same virus have recently been reported in Philippines, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and several other countries in Africa and are caused by gaps in immunization coverage. If a population is fully immunized against polio, it will be protected against the spread of all polioviruses.

Through the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) schedule, children in Pakistan receive routine immunization against 10 vaccine-preventable diseases (Childhood Tuberculosis, Poliomyelitis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus Influenza Type b, Pneumonia, Diarrhea and Measles). Through the service pregnant women are also vaccinated against Tetanus.

The polio programme is coordinating closely with EPI on strengthening services to ensure all children receive essential vaccinations. 

A healthy future for the children of Pakistan remains the top priority. Parents are requested to ensure any child under 5 years of age in their care is vaccinated during upcoming rounds, even if they have been previously vaccinated.