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Another polio case detected in Sindh

KARACHI, April 4: The second polio case in Sindh and sixth in the country of this year was detected in a 17-month-old girl in Dadu district, officials confirmed on Thursday.

According to officials associated with the Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI) of Sindh, the affected girl, Suhana, daughter of Ghulam Mustafa, was found with polio’s P-1 virus in a village of Mehar taluka of Dadu district.

“The P-1 virus was detected in the 17-month-old girl though she had been duly vaccinated with polio drops,” said Dr Mazhar Khamisani, Sindh EPI director.

He said the sample was collected on March 22 and sent to the National Institute of Health, Islamabad, and the result was received on Thursday.

“It is the second polio case in Sindh and sixth in overall Pakistan. Three polio cases have been detected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one in Punjab this year,” Dr Khamisani said.

He said the P-2 and P-3 viruses had already been eliminated through immunisation campaigns, but P-1, the more lethal of them, was there to kill people.

In February, the first polio case of this year was detected in a two-year-old boy in Cattle Colony of Bin Qasim Town. This was the first polio case in Karachi after one and a half years.

Dr Khamisani said the boy’s father, Mohammad Usman, was himself a polio victim, yet the boy had never been vaccinated against polio.

He, however, said the family, now facing the tragedy, was willing for vaccination — only after the boy had been crippled for life.

Last year, 58 polio cases were reported in Pakistan, five of which were recorded in Sindh.

The only two other countries where polio cases were reported last year were Nigeria (over 200 polio cases) and Afghanistan (over 60 polio cases).

The major challenge, according to experts, Pakistan is currently facing in its fight against polio is violence against polio workers.

A number of polio vaccinators have been killed across the country while many others have received death threats.

Efforts to tackle polio in the country have also been hampered over the years by local people’s misconceptions and suspicions about vaccination.

Resistance also comes from parents, often poorly educated and impressionable, who believe in wild conspiracy theories about the polio vaccine.

According to the World Health Organisation, more than 3.5 million Pakistani children missed out on polio vaccination when nine immunisation workers were shot dead in various parts of the country in December last year.

Statistics show that 1.75 million children were missed out in Sindh after the campaign was called off following the killing of four female polio team members in Karachi last year.

Of a total target of 18.5 million children for the last polio round in the country, 14.9 million were vaccinated.