ISLAMABAD, MAY 14, 2022 - A one-year-old boy has been paralyzed by wild polio in North Waziristan, in the third case to be reported from Pakistan this year.

The child had an onset of paralysis on 2nd May in Miranshah, while the case was confirmed from the Pakistan National Polio Laboratory at the NIH, Islamabad on Saturday 14th May.

“Another child will live with lifelong physical disabilities because of this preventable disease. As a country, we must understand the human cost of not finishing polio from Pakistan. Every polio case is a huge tragedy,” Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said.

“In the absence of any cure for poliovirus, the only way to protect children from life-long physical disabilities is to vaccinate them in each campaign,” the health minister added.

“After the first child was paralyzed, we feared that there would be more polio cases because of how infectious this virus is. Unfortunately, there may be more until every child is reached by the vaccine,” said Health Secretary Aamir Ashraf Khawaja.

Since January, we have taken emergency measures in the southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to save children from wild polio and these measures have been further extended and intensified, he added.  

The six districts in southern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had been identified by the polio programme as the area most at risk and an emergency action plan was initiated that is allowing the programme to reach more children than before.

“I am personally monitoring all polio eradication efforts. Recently, I visited Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa after the outbreak and met families of the affected children. I will now be going to all areas at high risk for polio to oversee operations on ground,” the minister added.

In response to the three cases, a nationwide immunisation campaign will be conducted from May 23 – 29. This campaign was initially planned for targeted areas around the country at the highest risk, but will now be held across Pakistan.

Note for the Editor:

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free, besides the two endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The next sub-national Polio vaccination campaign is planned to be conducted from 23 – 27 May 2022 in which over 24 million under five children will be targeted for vaccination.

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