ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister’s focal person for polio eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, has ordered an investigation into a polio case reported in Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).
Last week a polio case surfaced in Diamer after a gap of six years — the latest victim, a 14-month-old child.
Previously, two polio cases had been reported from GB — one in 2011 and the other in 2012. Both cases were reported from a Diamer district.
According to Ms Farooq, the recurrence of the poliovirus in GB — a low-risk area — indicated that the virus was under intense pressure and was targeting unvaccinated children across the country.
“We have launched an investigation to find out more details about the case so we can respond and protect other children in the community,” she said.
“The National Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Rapid Response Team is on the ground to support the district teams in Diamer and Gilgit for a strong case response round starting next week. Far flung villages will be given special focus. A second case response team targeting seven districts will then follow in two weeks,” she explained.
Since the beginning of the year, seven cases were reported — three each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh and one from Balochistan. Last year, only 20 polio cases were reported in the country. In 2015, there were 54 and in 2014 there were more than 300 poliovirus cases in the country.
Ms Farooq said the message from the last two cases was loud and clear, “as long as the virus is anywhere in the country, no child is safe and can become infected. We need to focus on children who still don’t have full immunity”.
“We need to ensure that all our children have completed their routine immunisations and are vaccinated with two polio drops, every time the vaccine is offered,” she added.
Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2017