KARACHI, Nov 21: Karachi reported its first polio case of the year on Wednesday, when the national health authorities confirmed poliovirus in an 18-month-old boy living in UC 11 of Liaquatabad, bringing the total number of cases reported in the province to five this year.
The director of the expanded programme on immunisation, however, said that since the victim had the history of travelling to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the results of genetic sequencing were being awaited from the World Health Organisation to decide the time and place of the onset of the dreaded disease in the child.
“What I have been told is that the minor boy had been in Mardan district of the KPK for many days. There was a chance that the onset of the disease might have taken place in the KPK and as such this case would not be included in Sindh’s tally of polio cases,” he said.
He added that despite all odds Sindh performance about poliovirus eradication could be held far better than that of the last year, when there were 33 cases, including nine reported in Karachi, in the province.
About the latest victim of the poliovirus, Suleman, son of Abdur Rehman, the 55th polio case of the country this year, it was further learnt that he had relatives in Gadap town, which is known for its poor sanitary conditions, vaccine refusals and prevalence of poliovirus in its environment.
It is believed that the boy, who had missed all the routine and supplementary vaccines against polio, got paralysed during his visit to the maternal grandfather’s house in Mardan, which has so far reported two polio cases this year, said a source privy to Islamabad’s polio eradication set-up.
According to a review body of the Global Polio Eradication Initiatives, four of the world’s six sanctuaries for poliovirus are in Pakistan, including Karachi.
Sharing the history of the new polio case, an official working for the polio eradication initiative in Islamabad told Dawn that the child was visiting his parental relatives in Mardan when he showed the symptoms and was referred to the Mardan Medical Complex Hospital, where his samples were collected.
However, the area from where the samples were collected was not the correct parameter to determine the locality of the case.
There was active poliovirus circulation in Mardan and Karachi and only genetic sequencing would help determine the definite location of the new polio case, the official said.
When contacted, the town health officer of Liaquatabad, Dr Aziz Baloch, said the family of the polio-hit child living in Nital Colony, had been denying vaccination on every visit. “Our team visited the family during the last polio campaign in October, but the father of the child did not allow vaccination of the child.
After visiting his relatives in Mardan, the child was back in Karachi and his lower limbs had been paralysed, the THO said and stressed the need for devising some legal tools against refusals and making polio vaccination mandatory.
During the last round there were over 2,000 cases of refusals, but the authorities took no action against the parents, he added