ISLAMABAD, MARCH 17, 2023 – A three-year-old child was paralyzed by polio in Bannu, the Pakistan National Polio Laboratory confirmed on Thursday.

“Since early last year, all polio cases have been from the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP),” said Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel.

The seven polio endemic districts of south Khyber Pakhtunkhwa include North Waziristan, Upper and Lower South Waziristan, DI Khan, Bannu, Tank and Lakki Marwat.  No human transmission of wild poliovirus has been reported outside these districts since January 2021.

“It’s deeply tragic that a three-year-old child has to suffer with lifelong disabilities by a disease that is entirely preventable,” said Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel, adding that “Polio teams continue to reach children in these areas that suffer from poor routine immunization and low nutritional standards.”

“We are looking at all important epidemiological factors related to this child and his surroundings to trace the origins of the infection that may help us identify missed areas or populations to take corrective actions and stop the virus circulation,” said Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator, National Emergency Operations Centre. “The programme will continue to aggressively control the spread of wild polio and we need the support of parents and caregivers to ensure that their children are vaccinated in all campaigns.”

This is the first polio case in Pakistan in six months. The only two countries in the world where wild poliovirus remains endemic are Pakistan and Afghanistan, while 99% of the world has eradicated the disease.   

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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