BALOCHISTAN: Global polio emergency would be declared in Pakistan if the situation is not improved within three months time particularly in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), said World Health Organisation (WHO) team leader in Pakistan Wahab Alanesi.
Speaking during a meeting organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the government of Balochistan regarding polio cases in the province, Alanesi said global polio emergency situation would bar Pakistani nationals from travelling anywhere in the world.
Present at the meeting, different speakers expressed their dissatisfaction towards polio campaign teams, media, politicians and other officials involved in anti-polio drive.
As many as 14 cases of polio were reported in Pakistan, five from Fata, four from K-P, two each from Sindh and Balochistan, while one case in Punjab. There are around 400,000 children at risk of getting infected with polio virus in three districts of Balochistan.
“These three districts [Quetta, Pishin and Qila Abdullah] have also jeopardised the neighbouring districts as virus was detected in nearby areas where no cases were reported earlier,” he added.
“Pakistan, along with Nigeria and Afghanistan, had failed to eradicate police virus till now. Though, only two cases have been so far reported but Balochistan is at high risk as the region had 73 reported cases in 2011,” he said, adding that most of the cases were reported due to inaccessibility or teams had failed to reach the areas.
He also mentioned that lack of awareness, propaganda against anti-polio drive or refusal to get vaccinated were not the main hurdles faced during the anti-polio campaign.
“Media is not playing its due role in anti-polio drive,” he stated.
The WHO team leader further revealed that there was a dramatic rise in reported polio cases in 2011 as 73 new cases were reported in a single year, which was almost equal to all the cases reported from 2005 to 2010.
Yusuf Bezinjo of Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) said that most of the polio cases were reported in Pashtun dominated areas while a few in pre-dominantly Baloch areas. “The religious scholars and local leaders in Pashtun areas must come forward and spread awareness about this incurable disease,” he said.