Poliovirus on any side of the border is a threat to children everywhere; Pakistan and Afghanistan are fighting the battle against polio together and will prevail: health minister

Islamabad, October 13, 2023 – Wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) has been detected in environmental samples of three districts of the country.

The Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health has notified that the virus has been isolated from sewage samples taken from Lahore on September 26 and from Hub and Peshawar districts on September 20.

The virus found in the three samples belongs to the virus cluster circulating in Afghanistan, according to the lab, which is also the WHO Regional Reference Lab.

Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan said the persistent detection of the virus in the environment is a major cause of concern, highlighting that it is moving with people and posing a great risk to children everywhere.

“The virus does not discriminate; its core aim is to infect children,” he said. “Pakistan has conducted multiple polio campaigns this year; we will continue to enhance our vaccination activities and strategize to ensure children remain protected.”

Pakistan has now reported 38 positive environmental samples in 2023 – 14 of them from Peshawar alone, while three children have been paralyzed by the virus.

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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