ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan strives to end poliovirus for good, the year’s first environmental sample report showed encouraging signs as no virus was found in sewage samples collected from 37 cities.

However, samples from Lahore — the second biggest city after Karachi — tested positive, prompting the authorities to start a vaccination campaign in 26 union councils.

According to a statement, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has confirmed the detection of Type-1 Wild Poliovirus (WPV1) in an environmental sample collected from District Lahore (Gulshan Ravi ES site) in January 2023.

“This is the first positive environmental sample from Pakistan this year,” the statement added.

Last year, 37 positive environmental samples were detected from all over the country.

Dr Shahzad Baig, the head of Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Programme, while talking to Dawn called it a “big achievement” as a number of cities including Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Qilla Abdullah, Quetta, Karachi and Southern KP region were detected negative.

These cities had reported positive samples over the years.

He added only one sample from Lahore was found positive and as per protocols, a decision has been made to start a campaign in 26 UCs whose sewage falls into the area.

Dr Baig said Lahore’s environmental sample was found positive three times during 2022, but it was found negative in December.

He said the positive test indicated mass movement across the country.

Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel has said the year’s first polio campaign was going on successfully.

“We are determined to eradicate the virus from the country,” he said as he requested parents to cooperate with the polio teams.

The sewage samples are important in detecting the virus’ prevalence in the country. If the virus is found in samples collected from any area, it is called positive. These samples are a basic parameter to determine the success of polio campaigns.

The presence of poliovirus in sewage also shows low immunity in children and they are at risk of contracting to catch the virus.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where the virus was still endemic.

In 2022, 20 children were paralysed by the virus in the country — all of them belong to the southern districts of KP. Of the 20, 17 were from North Waziristan, two from Lakki Marwat and one from South Waziristan.

Before cases were reported in 2022, Pakistan went without reporting a single case for almost 15 months.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

A new operation
Updated 25 Jun, 2024

A new operation

Clear deterrent action is needed against terrorist groups, but without upending the lives of people in the affected areas.
Power theft
25 Jun, 2024

Power theft

FEDERAL Energy Minister Awais Leghari’s statement during a TV interview that electricity theft amounts to Rs600bn ...
Fatal air
25 Jun, 2024

Fatal air

TOXIC air can cost us our children. It causes life-threatening illnesses, inflicts lifelong damage and leads to ...
Time for dialogue
Updated 24 Jun, 2024

Time for dialogue

If the PML-N and PTI remain mired in mutual acrimony, an ever-widening gap will continue to allow non-political forces to assert themselves.
Property taxes
24 Jun, 2024

Property taxes

ACCORDING to reports in the local media, along with the higher taxes imposed on real estate in the recent budget, ...
Fierce heat
24 Jun, 2024

Fierce heat

CLIMATE change is unfolding as predicted by experts: savage heat, melting glaciers, extreme rainfall, drought, ...