Health minister says polio on any side of the border is a threat to children everywhere and parents must ensure repeated vaccination for their children

Islamabad, 29 May 2023 – Two environmental samples collected from Peshawar district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have tested positive for wild poliovirus.

The Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health has confirmed that wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) has been found in sewage samples collected from Naray Khuwar and Larama collection sites on 9 May and 16 May, respectively.

According to the lab, the isolated viruses are genetically linked to the virus cluster circulating in neighboring Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. 

Federal Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel has said that as the only two endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan are united in their fight against polio and both countries will not rest until they eradicate it.

“The Pakistan Polio Programme is maintaining a robust surveillance system, which is evident from the prompt detections of the virus in sewage samples recently,” he said. “We will continue to hunt and eliminate the virus wherever we find it to protect our children from a disability-causing disease.” 

The minister added that poliovirus on any side of the border is a threat to children everywhere, and parents must continue to ensure that their children under five receive the life-saving polio drops in all campaigns.

Dr Shahzad Baig, the Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, said Pakistan collects environmental samples from 114 sites in 80 districts every month to test for WPV1.

He added that the presence of the virus in the environment is a cause for concern but not unexpected since last month was the high-travel season of Eid.

“The Polio Programme has mounted swift responses to all virus detections in the past and will continue to do so in future to prevent poliovirus from finding a home in under-immunised children.” he said.

The NEOC coordinator added that the Pakistan Polio Programme is working in close coordination and collaboration with the Afghanistan Polio Programme and provincial EOC to ensure high-quality vaccination at all border crossings and to identify and plug any remaining immunization gaps.

Pakistan has reported only one polio case and nine positive environmental samples so far this year, while three human cases and 23 positive environmental samples have been reported in Afghanistan.

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.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Zulfiqar Babakhel, Media Manager, NEOC,

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