ISLAMABAD: A nine-month-old boy from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province has become the latest victim of poliovirus.
The new case has been reported from Sarae Norang of Lakki Marwat district, said an official of the Polio Virology Laboratory at the National Institute of Health (NIH), requesting anonymity.
The child was afflicted with the virus because his parents were anti-vaxxers who had not allowed a single dose of the vaccine to be given as according to the official, “parents don’t administer the vaccine to their children as they believe the polio vaccine is either haram or it makes their children impotent”.
With this new confirmed case, the number of polio cases for 2019 has reached 77.
In 2018, 12 cases were reported from Pakistan and in 2017 eight cases were reported.
Provincial data for the current year so far shows that 57 cases have been reported from KP i.e. 23 cases from Bannu district, 11 cases from Lakki Marwat district, eight cases from North Waziristan district, seven cases from Torghar district, two cases from Hangu district and one each from Charsadda, D.I. Khan, Shangla, Bajaur, Khyber and South Waziristan districts.
In Sindh province, eight cases have been reported from Karachi, Hyderabad, Larkana and Jamshoro.
In Balochistan province, seven cases have been reported from Qila Abdullah, Jaffarabad, Harnai and Quetta districts.
And in Punjab province, five cases have been reported from Lahore and Jhelum districts.
On Thursday, the Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication announced that the second of three types of the poliovirus had been eradicated globally, according to a Reuters report. The World Health Organisation had termed it a “historic step” towards a polio-free world.
This means that only poliovirus type 1 is still circulating after type 2 was declared eradicated in 2015 and type 3 this week.
Global polio cases have been cut by more than 99 per cent since 1988 but type 1 polio is still endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Philippines last month said it was planning an emergency vaccination campaign after polio surfaced in the country and caused the first two recorded polio cases there in 20 years, Reuters added.
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.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2019