ISLAMABAD, 15 SEPTEMBER 2022 – Another child in southern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has been paralyzed by wild poliovirus.
The six-month-old boy belongs to South Waziristan and had onset of paralysis on 22nd August, the Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health confirmed on Thursday.
So far this year, 19 children have been paralyzed by wild poliovirus in Pakistan, with two children from Lakki Marwat, 16 children from North Waziristan and one child from South Waziristan. This is the first case from South Waziristan this year. Prior to this, a child was paralyzed in the district in June 2020.
Controlling the outbreak in southern KP remains the focus of the Pakistan Polio Programme. Among the new measures taken to control the outbreak is offering injectable vaccines that have greater community acceptance, soap to vaccinated children and strengthening disease surveillance in these areas.
“The humanitarian crisis in wake of the floods pose graver challenges to polio eradication efforts as we grapple with the displacement of millions of people. This mass displacement will lead to the spread of wild poliovirus making it even more important to vaccinate children against polio,” said Federal Health Minister Qadir Patel.
Federal Health Secretary Dr. Muhammad Fakhre Alam said the risk of further spread of wild poliovirus is of great concern to the programme. “To mitigate this risk as much as we can, we are vaccinating at health camps and increasing vigilance at transit points.”
Despite the extraordinary rains and flood emergency, the programme continued with the August campaign and readjusted the schedule in all accessible areas. While the immunization campaign could not be conducted in Balochistan and 23 districts of Sindh, the programme managed to reach nearly 33 million children in the country. The next immunization campaign is planned for October.
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 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.
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