ISLAMABAD: The tally for polio cases across the country in 2019 has reached 135 as one more child has been infected with the virus of the crippling disease.
The new case has been reported from Sindh province’s Thatta district, Mirpursakro tehsil, Gujjo Union Council. “The 34-month-old boy’s upper and lower limbs of left side have been paralysed. His socioeconomic status has been declared poor as his father is a farmer and it remains difficult for him to make ends meet,” an official at the National Institute of Health said.
“Though we are in the year 2020, but as the sample was collected on Dec 26, 2019, therefore the case has been placed in the list of last year,” he said.
Coordinator for the National Emergency Operation Centre for polio Dr Rana Safdar told Dawn the field investigations would be done on Sunday (today).
Starting tomorrow, case response round of polio campaign will target 12m children living in high-risk districts
“Thatta has already been included in the case response round of the polio vaccination campaign, which will start from Monday (tomorrow) and target around 12 million children residing in districts with all recent detections,” he said.
After a successful nationwide polio campaign in December, he said, the case response round would give quick immunity boost to children in areas with current risk.
“The February campaign would thus provide a third vaccination opportunity to these children significantly mitigating the associated risks. Efforts from December-April will bridge the immunity gap that leads to a significant decrease in intensity of virus transmission in the second half of 2020,” the official claimed.
According to the website of the polio programme, as many as 135 polio cases have been reported in 2019, compared to 12 in 2018 and only eight in 2017.
The provincial data for 2019 shows that 91 polio cases have been reported from KP, 25 from Sindh, 11 from Balochistan and eight from Punjab.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus and 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, his/her 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. However, there are only two countries in the world — Pakistan and Afghanistan — where polio cases are being reported. Pakistan remains under a polio-linked travel restriction imposed by the World Health Organisation due to which, since 2014, every Pakistani travelling abroad has to carry a polio vaccination certificate.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2020