ISLAMABAD: Three girls and one boy — all from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — have been paralysed by poliovirus. With the new detections, the total number of polio cases in the country during the current year has reached 98.
Ironically, the total number of polio cases for KP has risen to 72, which is more than the total number of the cases reported from across Pakistan from Jan 1, 2016 to Dec 31, 2018.
According to a notification issued by the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, four new polio cases have been confirmed from KP out of which three are from Lakki Marwat district and the fourth from Tank district. An official of the NIH laboratory said a three-month boy had been infected with the poliovirus.
“The child is a resident of Sarae Naurang tehsil/ Takhti Khel union council. He did not receive any dose of polio vaccine at all. The second victim is an 11-month-old girl from the same area who was a case of refusal against polio vaccine.
“The third victim is also an 11-month-old girl belonging to Lakki Marwat tehsil/ Deratang union council. Her parents claim she had received two doses of vaccine,” said the official.
A 12-month-old girl had also been paralysed by the virus of the crippling disease, he said. The child belongs to Tank tehsil/ Waraspoon union council.
Because of the new cases, the countrywide tally for the year has reached 98 as compared to 12 in 2018 and eight in 2017. During the current year so far 72 cases have been reported from KP, 14 from Sindh, seven from Balochistan and five from Punjab.
In a related development, the Japanese government has announced providing $4.5 million aid to support supply of essential oral polio vaccine for the Polio Eradication Programme in Pakistan.
These vaccines will enable the programme to reach more than 20 million children under five years of age during vaccination drives planned from December this year to November 2020.
Notes of the grant were signed and exchanged in Islamabad on Wednesday between the Japanese government, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the United Nations Children’s Fund in the presence of Dr Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.
The grant aid will be used for procurement of oral polio vaccine. A total of 22.69m doses will be procured under the grant which will support the vaccination of the estimated 20m children for case/event response or mop-up activities. This will enable the programme to continue its efforts for closing immunity gaps among children under the age of five years, according to the Japanese embassy.
Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2019