Health minister vows to stamp out poliovirus from country, urges parents to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated.                              

Islamabad, September 25, 2023 – Traces of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) have been found in sewage samples collected from Hangu and Karachi districts.

According to the Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health, a sewage sample collected from Karachi Keamari on September 5 and two samples collected from Hangu on September 6 tested positive for WPV1. 

The lab, which is also the WHO Regional Reference Lab, stated that the virus isolated from all three sewage samples is genetically connected to the YB3A cluster circulating in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan has vowed to stamp out poliovirus from the country. He said: “Viruses move with people and can infect vulnerable children anywhere. We are launching a nationwide polio vaccination campaign in October to build children’s immunity. Parents must ensure that their children under five years of age are immunized in this campaign and their routine vaccinations are up to date.”

The minister further said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are one epidemiological block with historical ties and widespread population movement, and both countries are united in their fight against this disability-causing virus.

Federal Secretary for Health Iftikhar Shallwani said the Polio Programme has mounted efficient responses to all detections so far and is well prepared to deal with the virus anywhere in the country.

“Community ownership and engagement have been critical to eradication in all countries that have wiped this disease out,” he said. “As a nation, we remain united for the cause of a polio-free Pakistan so that our children have the chance to live a life free of disease.”

A national polio campaign is starting from October 2 to vaccinate over 40 million children under five against polio. All children in Hangu and Karachi will be vaccinated during the during this drive.

Pakistan has so far reported two polio cases this year and 27 positive environmental 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 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.

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