Pakistan is conducting a nationwide vaccination drive to vaccinate all children against polio; health minister urges parents to ensure complete vaccination.

Islamabad, September 27, 2023 – Wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) has been found in five sewage samples collected from Karachi and Peshawar.

The Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health has notified that two environmental samples collected from Karachi East on September 12, one sample collected from Peshawar on September 12, one collected from Karachi Central on September 7 and from Karachi South on September 13 have tested positive for WPV1.

Virus found in four of these samples is genetically linked to the YB3A poliovirus cluster circulating in Nangarhar, Afghanistan, while genetic sequencing from the Peshawar sample is in progress.

Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan has termed the persistent detection of wild poliovirus in the environment a major cause of concern. “Polio has no cure and children under five years of age are at most risk from its devastating effects,” he said, adding that a nationwide campaign will begin in October to vaccinate children in all 159 districts of the country.  

He added that Pakistan and Afghanistan are working in close coordination to strengthen vaccination at border crossings and to vaccinate all mobile populations.

Federal Secretary for Health Iftikhar Shallwani said: “The proactive detection of polio remains amongst our top health priorities. Successful campaigns have protected children from polio, and we will only increase our efforts until we eradicate this infectious virus.”

Children under five in all districts of Karachi and Peshawar were vaccinated in a campaign from August 7 to 13 and will be vaccinated again in the national polio drive beginning on October 2.

Pakistan has so far reported two polio cases and 32 positive samples this year.

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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