Four cases of polio were reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan on Monday, taking the total number of cases detected across the country this year so far to 41.
According to the KP Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), two new cases of polio were found in Bannu district; the crippling disease was confirmed in a 12-month-old girl in Jani Khel area and in a 30-month-old boy in Fatah Khel area.
Bannu has been declared a "highly sensitive" area with regards to the prevalence of polio, the KP EOC said in a statement. With the latest addition, the number of polio cases detected in Bannu this year has risen to 16.
In Balochistan, the first two polio cases of the year were reported from Jaffarabad and Qilla Abdullah Districts.
According to sources in the Balochistan emergency operations cell, an eight-month-old child fell prey to poliovirus in Jano Kahool area of Chaman. Health officials in Chaman described refusal by parents to inoculate their children as the underlying reason behind the fresh case.
Samples taken from a nine-month-old child in Jaffarabad also confirmed the presence of the disease.
The Balochistan government has already declared an emergency to eradicate polio.
Pakistan is one of the two last countries in the world, alongside Afghanistan, where polio cases are being reported. This year so far, 41 polio cases have been reported across the country; 33 in KP including the newly merged tribal districts, three each in Punjab and Sindh, and two in Balochistan.
In a sharp contrast, 12 cases were reported from across the country last year and only eight in 2017.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus, mainly affecting children under the age of five. 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.