Islamabad, February 29, 2024 – Three environmental samples have tested positive for wild poliovirus, bringing the total number of positive samples in 2024 to 34.

According to the Regional Reference Laboratory at NIH, the virus was isolated from a sewage sample collected from Multan on February 6, and from Peshawar and Karachi Malir on February 12. All three samples contained the imported virus cluster.

Highlighting the threat of poliovirus, Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan said that a nationwide polio vaccination campaign is currently underway in the country and urged parents to get their children vaccinated.

“There is no cure for polio, the only way to protect your children from the threat of irreversible paralysis is the polio vaccine,” he said.

Federal Secretary for Health Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said that more than 400,000 vaccinators will be going door to door in every district this week, bringing with them a critical vaccine.

The health secretary said: “Polio vaccine has helped protect the futures of millions of people in the world. For millions of Pakistani children too, the polio vaccine brings the hope of a healthier future.”

He called on parents to reject propaganda and false information about the vaccine and open their doors for the vaccinators who are striving to protect all Pakistani children from disability.

Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Center for Polio Eradication, said a polio vaccination campaign is being held in the country from February 26 to March 9, during which more than 45.8 million children under five years of age will be vaccinated.

“Poliovirus has been detected in 34 sewage samples this year in 21 districts,” he said, adding, “Ahead of Ramadan and the high-travel season of Eid, this vaccination campaign will be crucial in maintaining children’s immunity and keeping them safe from polio.”

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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