Health minister says the Polio Programme maintains a highly sensitive surveillance network and will continue to focus its efforts on early detection of poliovirus and swift response.

Islamabad, August 23, 2023 – An environmental sample from Rawalpindi has tested positive for wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1).

The virus was found in an environmental sample collected from Safdarabad site on August 10, according to the Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health, which is also the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory for the Polio Programme.

This is the second positive sample from Rawalpindi this year and the isolated virus is genetically linked to the virus cluster circulating in Nangarhar province of neighboring Afghanistan.

Caretaker Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan has said that the presence of poliovirus in the environment is highly concerning because it poses a continued threat to the well-being of children.

“The best way to protect children from the debilitating poliovirus is the polio vaccination. Parents and caregivers must ensure that their children receive multiple doses of the vaccine to ensure lifelong disability,” he said.

The minister added that the Polio Programme has prevented the virus from establishing circulation in earlier detections and will continue to focus its efforts on early detection and swift response to eliminate the poliovirus wherever it is found.

Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Center for Polio Eradication, said the Pakistan Polio Programme is maintaining a highly sensitive polio surveillance network which is evident from the swift detections of the virus in the environment.

“We are holding frequent vaccination campaigns in the country and are also working closely with the Polio Programme in Afghanistan to strengthen vaccination at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to mitigate the risk of spread,” he said.  

A polio campaign was held in 65 districts of the country this month, including Rawalpindi from August 7 to 13, to vaccinate more than 8 million children under five.

Pakistan has reported two polio cases and 16 positive environmental samples so far this year, while Afghanistan has reported five cases and 33 positive samples.


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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Mr. Zulfiqar Babakhel, Media Manager, NEOC,


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