ISLAMABAD: One more polio case has been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), bringing the tally for the year 2019 to 136.
“The new case has been reported from Tajazai union council of Lakki Marwat district and tehsil, a 25-month-old boy has been infected with the virus of the crippling disease and his lower limbs have been paralysed,” Coordinator for the National Emergency Operation Centre for polio Dr Rana Safdar told Dawn.
He said that the child had not received a single dose of polio vaccine during routine immunisation campaigns.
“Though we are in the year 2020 but since the sample was collected last month, the case has been placed in the list of 2019,” Dr Safdar said.
According to the website of the National Polio Programme, as many as 136 polio cases have been reported in 2019, compared to 12 in 2018 and only eight in 2017.
The provincial data for 2019 shows that 92 polio cases have been reported from KP, 25 from Sindh, 11 from Balochistan and eight from Punjab.
Meanwhile, secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association Dr Qaisar Sajjad has deplored that polio infection had remained endemic despite over 100 rounds of vaccination carried out in the past decade.
“Our polio programme has deteriorated during the last one year though in 2018 the programme seemed to be on the brink of eradicating poliovirus,” he said in a statement. “This is very unfortunate that the International Monitoring Board has declared that the polio programme is a “political football” in the country. It has also observed that there is lack of political unity behind polio resurgence in the country.”
“The PMA believes that a massive awareness campaign through print, electronic and social media should be initiated,” he said. “The government will have to run a strong campaign to let people know what polio is and what its consequences are. People should be made aware of the importance of polio vaccine. They should particularly be convinced that the vaccine is very effective for the eradication of polio and it is absolutely not harmful in any way. All misconceptions about the polio drops should be removed from people’s minds.”
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus 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 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.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020