ISLAMABAD: A three-month-old child was found on Monday to have been paralysed by wild poliovirus in North Waziristan. This is the 18th case of the crippling disease detected in the country this year.
Earlier, two cases of the poliovirus were found in Lakki Marwat. Other 16 cases of the paralysing disease were detected in children living in North Waziristan.
Last week, a positive environmental sample for poliovirus was detected in Karachi in addition to four others from Bannu, Peshawar, Swat and Lahore. Karachi, which is home to communities from across Pakistan, is a poliovirus reservoir and remains among areas categorised by the programme at high risk of wild poliovirus transmission.
Informed sources said that the humanitarian crisis, triggered by unprecedented floods, would pose graver challenges to Karachi and other areas of the country in the foreseeable future, as millions of people have been displaced by floods and they were moving to urban areas to take refuge.
“Despite extreme climatic conditions, the Pakistan Polio Programme conducted immunisation campaign wherever possible, and the programme is prepared to restart the campaign in flood-affected areas as soon as it becomes feasible,” Federal Health Minister Qadir Patel said.
“In the given circumstances, the risk of poliovirus has only amplified,” he said.
Meanwhile, National Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator Dr Shahzad Baig said the programme had established health camps in 32 districts of the country to support health needs of flood-affected people.
These health camps, he said, would provide basic clinical services, particularly the treatment of water-borne, vector-borne and skin diseases that are expected to be prevalent. “All routine immunisation antigens will also be provided to targeted children and pregnant women,” Dr Baig said.
Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2022