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First polio case of year in Sindh emerges in Lyari

Updated March 22, 2019


In this file photo, a health worker marks a child's finger after administering polio drops.—AFP/File
In this file photo, a health worker marks a child's finger after administering polio drops.—AFP/File

KARACHI: A three-year-old girl has been tested positive for poliovirus, becoming the first case of the crippling disease of the current year, officials in the Sindh health ministry said on Thursday.

“It is with great regret that we announce the first polio case of Sindh in 2019 as a 36-month-old female child has tested positive for the virus in UC-9 of Lyari Town,” said Dr Masood Solangi, director general of health, Sindh.

He said the child had received oral polio vaccine (OPV) on multiple occasions, but she had a history of illness and suffered from malnourishment hence was low on immunity and developed weakness in her limbs.

‘The fact that this girl is not paralysed shows that the oral polio vaccine works’

He, however, said the child would not suffer from paralysis as she had been vaccinated with OPV multiple times and had fully recovered.

“We must recognise the importance of vaccination,” said coordinator of the emergency operations centre (EOC) for polio in Sindh, Umar Bullo. “The fact that this girl is not paralysed shows the oral polio vaccine works,” he added.

“Had she not received OPV on seven-plus occasions, she would have to suffer lifetime disability. This is also a message for the families who refuse to get their children vaccinated.”

The EOC official said by not vaccinating youngsters parents were exposing their own children and those of others to danger.

The latest case in Sindh has taken the national figure to six this year. Last year Sindh had a single polio case reported in Karachi’s Gadap neighbourhood, and that was a historical low for the province.

The country reported 12 polio cases in 2018.

“The Sindh government will respond strongly and a campaign is planned in the city from March 25,” said an official.

“Despite major improvements in the programme and a decline in cases, we cannot rest and must ensure that no child suffers from a vaccine-preventable disease.”

The EOC requested parents to take responsibility and comply with the recommendations given by health experts and cooperate with polio teams.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019