Pakistan and Afghanistan are united in their fight polio and are committed to making this region polio-free: health minister

Islamabad, October 5, 2023 – A sewage sample collected from Dera Bugti district of Balochistan has tested positive for wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1).

According to the Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health, the positive sample was collected on September 18 and is genetically linked to the poliovirus cluster circulating in Afghanistan.

Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan said this is the 35th positive environmental sample this year and the swift detection of the virus highlights the efficiency of Pakistan’s polio surveillance system.

“Being one epidemiological block, Pakistan and Afghanistan share historic geographic and demographic ties,” said Dr Jan. “We are united in our fight against this disability-causing virus and are committed to making our region polio-free.”

The health minister added that a nationwide polio campaign is underway this week to vaccinate more than 44 million children under five against polio and urged parents to ensure that their children receive this life-saving vaccine.

This is the second positive environmental sample from Balochistan this year. Earlier, an environmental sample from Pishin had tested positive in September.

So far this year, Pakistan has reported three polio cases and 35 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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