Debilitating news: Suspected polio case surfaces in Lower Dir

Published: April 23, 2012

Official suspects it’s a ploy to gain cash support on eve of nationwide drive.

TIMERGARA: A revelation that a seven-year -old in Lower Dir may be polio positive, a day before the nationwide polio eradication campaign, has stirred up controversy among local officials.

Hubab was allegedly affected by the polio virus a few months ago, but his family failed to reveal this until just one day before the nationwide campaign.

Hubab’s elder brother Khalid told The Express Tribune that at the time of his birth, his brother was normal, but six months ago, both of his legs started to weaken. Khalid said his brother began facing difficulties during running or walking fast. After a few days, the pain in his legs made it nearly impossible for him to walk.

Khalid added that his family took him to see a pediatrician who referred him to a neurologist. The neurologist diagnosed him with polio. He said they visited the doctor again after one month, where he conducted tests on Hubab and claimed that he was sure the boy was a polio patient.

After receiving medication prescribed by the neurologist, Hubab felt relief from his pains. “Now he can walk, but is still limping,” said Khalid. However, he added that despite the expensive medication, Hubab’s right leg is becoming weaker by the day. Khalid told The Express Tribune that his brother was regularly immunised by local visiting polio teams.

Dr Jehanzeb, local coordinator of the Extended Programme of Immunisation (EPI), told The Express Tribune that he has read Hubab’s medical history. The family consulted a pediatrician and a neurologist who, without any clinical tests, claimed that the boy has polio.

“Those doctors do not have the authority to confirm the polio virus in anyone without conducting appropriate tests,” he said. “Polio can only be diagnosed through a stool test. Hubab’s case study shows that his stools have not been tested in a laboratory by his doctors. It can be called a suspected polio case but not a confirmed one,” he said. “Even if it’s a confirmed case we will categorise it in old polio cases and not as a new one.”

“This child’s medical history revealed that after his birth in 2006, he was suffering from abnormalities. His case study further shows that if he is a polio patient, he would have been attacked by the disease in 2006, not now,” said Dr Shoukat, additional district officer of Lower Dir’s health department to The Express Tribune.

Dr Shoukat alleged that Hubab’s uncle may have raised this issue just a day before the nationwide polio campaign to gain financial support from the government or foreign NGOs. He said that on Monday, a team of doctors will be visiting Lower Dir. “We will refer this child to that team who will decide whether this is a polio case or not.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.

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