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Pakistan almost free from type 3 poliovirus: WHO

April 18, 2013

LAHORE, April 17: Pakistan achieved a breakthrough in the fight against polio as it did not report a single case of poliovirus type 3 during the last 12 months. The World Health Organisation declared on Wednesday “now Pakistan is no more among those countries reporting P3 cases”.

The last P3 case was reported on April 18, 2012 when the onset of the crippling disease had paralysed a 12-year-old girl Iqra of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency, an official familiar with the case told Dawn.

According to WHO policy, a country was declared ‘endemic free’ in case of a one-year gap in the emergence of poliovirus case.

The official said chief of polio eradication at the WHO, Dr Elias Durry, has formally declared Pakistan a state free from a special strain of poliovirus. According to the organisation, type 2 strain of the poliovirus (P2) had been eradicated globally in 1999. However, the WHO teams would closely monitor samples from sewage waters and wait for another month to ‘officially’ announce the achievement by Pakistan.

Unfortunately, he said the P1 and P3 remained endemic in only three countries - Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Pakistan, however, achieved this target gradually with the constant supervision of WHO teams despite security issues and the political crisis. The official said Gadap Town in Karachi and four districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were still major reservoirs of P1.

“Although the date of this historic achievement will remain the same (April 18), we will have to wait for the polio virology laboratory till the end of next month for the results of any pending samples for confirmation of the poliovirus,” Dr Durry told Dawn.

“Pakistan successfully brought down the number of [P3] cases by 71 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011,” Durry said. He said all provinces except KP had brought down the number of cases from 66 per cent to 95 per cent.

He said in the current year the number of cases had been brought down by over 70 per cent again as Pakistan had reported six cases against 17 in the same period last year.