Polio is incurable, parents must ensure that their children are vaccinated in ongoing polio drive in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, says Health Minister

Islamabad, May 26, 2023 – Wild poliovirus has once again been found in sewage sample from Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

According to the Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health, wild poliovirus type 1 was detected in an environmental sample collected from the Civil Hospital-Jani Chowk site on May 9. Earlier, a sample collected from this site had also tested positive for poliovirus in April.

The detected virus belongs to a virus cluster which is in circulation in Nangarhar, Afghanistan.

The presence of poliovirus in the environment means children’s health is at risk and parents must ensure that their children are protected through vaccination, said Federal Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel.

He said: “We must remember that polio has no cure and only the vaccine offers lifelong protection. A vaccination drive is underway in many districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and I urge all parents and caregivers, particularly in Hangu, to make sure that their children are receiving polio drops.”

Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, said that the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme is constantly on the hunt for the virus and this detection highlights its efficiency.

“Our Polio Programme is well-prepared to stop poliovirus in its tracks wherever we find it,” he said, adding that this detection will help the Programme identify under-immunized populations and plan vaccination responses to boost immunity.

A subnational vaccination drive is already underway in 22 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Hangu since May 22 to vaccinate children under five against paralytic polio and will continue until May 26.  

Pakistan has reported only one human case and seven environmental samples positive for wild poliovirus so far in 2023.

Note for the Editor:

Polio is a highly infectious and incurable disease caused by poliovirus, which mainly affects children under the age of five. The virus invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death in some cases. There is no cure for polio, repeated vaccination is the most effective way to protect children. The polio vaccine has protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free. Pakistan and Afghanistan remain the only two endemic countries in the world.

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