Pakistan detects second case of 2023, virus transmission remains restricted in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
ISLAMABAD, 01 AUGUST 2023 – In the second case this year, a three-year-old boy has been paralysed by wild poliovirus in Bannu, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The child had an onset of paralysis on 11 July. The case was confirmed by the Pakistan National Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad on Tuesday, 1 August. This is the second polio case from Bannu.
“Another child in Bannu has been paralyzed by wild poliovirus. This three-year-old child will live with disabilities for the rest of his life because of a virus that is entirely preventable, which is truly tragic,” said Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel.
He added that: “Pakistan is in a much better position to combat polio than it was a year ago after the outbreak in North Waziristan last April. However, every child affected is one child too many. Our children deserve a life free from this incurable disease.”
Endemic wild polio transmission remains restricted to seven districts in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, namely North Waziristan, South Waziristan Upper, South Waziristan Lower, DI Khan, Bannu, Tank and Lakki Marwat, while in other part of Pakistan no child has been paralyzed by polio since 2021, despite the virus being periodically detected in sewage samples.
“Parents do not realize that every time they refuse vaccination, they are exposing their children to lifelong disabilities. There is a huge cost to vaccine refusal,” said Federal Health Secretary Iftikhar Shallwani.
Dr Shahzad Baig, the Coordinator for the National Emergency Operations Centre, said a campaign will begin in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa next week and urged parents to ensure vaccination.
“Over the past year, Bannu had remained a cause for concern, with the persistent detection of the virus in the environment. We have focused our efforts on safeguarding children from its impact, yet regrettably, two children have been affected this year. Despite these challenges, we remain committed to our mission of interrupting wild polio transmission,” Dr Baig added.
In 2022, 20 children were affected by polio, with 17 of them in North Waziristan, two children in Lakki Marwat and one child in South Waziristan.
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.
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Zulfiqar Babakhel, Senior Media Manager, NEOC (National Emergency Operations Centre), 0345-9165937