ISLAMABAD: After yet another polio case was detected in North Waziristan on Friday, the country’s tally of the virus for the current year has reached 11, as compared to just one case last year.

On the other hand, the top global health body said Pakistan was among the four countries reporting the wild poliovirus (WPV) besides Afghanistan, Mozam­bique and Malawi.

While all the cases in Pakistan this year were reported from North Waziris­tan, eight of them emerged from the Mir Ali area alone.

The latest victim of the crippling disease is an eight-month-old boy who has been paralysed by the WPV. According to an official of the Ministry of National Health Services, the child belonged to Mir Ali in North Waziristan.

“Emergency measures adopted by the Pakistan Polio Programme have so far contained the virus in the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the official claimed.

WHO body voices concerns over situation in ex-Fata district

Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel, in a statement, said the entire country needed to support efforts to eliminate polio. “If only families administer two drops of the polio vaccine to their child each time, we can save all the children,” he said.

The minister urged the conventional and social media, religious scholars and all segments of society to play their role in raising awareness among the masses about the polio vaccine.

WHO cautions about VDPV

The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Friday, issued a report about the 32nd meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) on the international spread of poliovirus.

The meeting convened last week reviewed the data on WPV1 and circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV) in the context of global eradication of the virus, and received technical updates about the situation in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel, Malawi, the occupied Palestinian territory and Pakistan, and written updates were provided by Eritrea and Yemen.

According to the report, the committee expressed concern over a second WPV1 detected in Mozambique close to the border with Malawi where the first case was detected. Genetic sequencing of the two cases indicated a single importation event from Pakistan/Afghanistan estimated to have occurred between July 2019 and December 2020.

Concerns regarding North Waziristan

The committee expressed concern about the recent outbreak of WPV1 in North Waziristan. It noted that key challenges that hampered progress in the southern KP area included the complex security situation, which resulted in inadequate access, missed children and reduced quality of campaigns. “Community resistance with refusals to vaccination (including vaccination boycotts and fake finger-marking without vaccination), lack of female frontline workers and high turnover of frontline workers, and weak health infrastructure and service delivery all pose challenges,” it stated.

The committee recommended the extension of temporary recommendations for a further three months.

As per the recommendations, every person has to be vaccinated and carry a valid vaccination card while travelling from restricted countries including Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2022

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