Chaman polio case brings this year’s tally to 50

Updated Jun 06 2020

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Child from poor background received no dose of vaccine during six campaigns.
 — AFP/File
Child from poor background received no dose of vaccine during six campaigns. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The first case of polio during high transmission season has been reported due to which tally for the current year has reached 50.

According to an official of the National Institute of Health (NIH), who requested anonymity, the child belongs to Balochistan.

“A 17-month-old female child, resident of Kila Abdullah district, Chaman tehsil, Sirki Taleri union council, has become the fresh victim. The child’s lower limb has been paralysed and the socioeconomic status of child is declared poor,” he said.

The official said the child did not receive even a single dose of oral polio vaccine during the last six supplementary immunisation activities [polio campaigns] due to which she easily fell prey to the crippling virus.

Child from poor background received no dose of vaccine during six campaigns

“Unfortunately, due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), the polio campaigns have been severely affected and it is feared that the number of polio cases can increase in the coming months as high transmission season has started,” he said.

It is worth mentioning that poliovirus remains less active in the low transmission season from September to May because of low temperatures. However, it becomes more active from June to August, which is when more children can be affected. That is why even polio campaigns are halted during high transmission period.

According to the data of the current year, as many as 20 cases have been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 17 from Sindh, 11 from Balochistan and two cases from Punjab.

In 2019, as many as 146 cases of the crippling disease were reported as compared to 12 cases in 2018 and only eight cases in 2007.

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, 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 still being reported.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020