Islamabad, January 16, 2024 – Nine more environmental samples collected in December have tested positive for wild poliovirus type 1, bringing the total number of positive environmental samples in 2023 to 124.
The Regional Reference Lab at the National Institute of Health notified that the virus was isolated from sewage samples collected between December 18 and 20, 2023, from Mastung, Quetta, Hub, Karachi Malir, Karachi South, Multan, Peshawar, Nowshera and DI Khan. All nine samples contained the imported virus cluster.
According to the lab, of the more than 2,500 sewage samples collected in 2023, the virus has now been detected in 124 samples in 27 districts.
Expressing concern at the increased virus detections, Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan urged parents to remain vigilant and ensure their children’s wellbeing through repeated vaccination.
“Since viruses move with people, the best way to protect children from this paralytic disease is to ensure that all children in the country are vaccinated at every opportunity,” the minister said, adding that a nationwide polio vaccination campaign is being held in the country from January 8 onwards to immunize over 45 million children under five against polio.
Dr Jan said: “Our frontline polio workers will bring the polio vaccine to children’s doorstep. I urge all parents and caregivers to prioritize their children’s health and ensure that they receive two drops of the polio vaccine, which can provide lifelong protection from paralytic polio.”
Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Center for Polio Eradication said the Pakistan Polio Programme has been monitoring the situation closely and has responded swiftly to every detection of the virus anywhere in the country.
He said: “Over 95 percent of positive samples in 2023 have contained the imported virus, indicating that it is moving with people. The Programme remains resilient and highly responsive. We began the New Year with a national polio campaign to reach children with the protective vaccine, and more innovative strategies will continue throughout the 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, except for the two endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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Ms Amina Sarwar, Communications Officer, NEOC
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