The polio virology laboratory at the National Institute of Health (NIH) on Thursday confirmed four new cases of type-1 polio in Pakistan, raising the total number of polio cases reported this year to 21.
One polio case has been confirmed in the Rajanpur district of Punjab, making it the first case reported from the province this year. The last time there was a case reported from Rajanpur was in 2004.
Meanwhile, three other cases were reported, including one each in Sindh, South Waziristan and Khyber Agency.
It was the first polio case reported in South Waziristan this year. The last case was reported in October 2011.
Similarly, it was the first polio case reported from the Larkana district in 2012. The last case from the district was reported in 2005.
However, this marks the the third case of polio reported this year in the province of Sindh. Earlier cases were reported in Hyderabad and Nosheroferoz.
This also marks the eighth polio case reported in Khyber Agency. The first case was reported from Tirah tehsil, later, one was reported from Jamrud tehsil, and six earlier cases were reported from Bara tehsil.
According to the Polio Virology Laboratory, Alishba, d/o Muhammad Naeem, a 36-month old, suffered from the onset of paralysis on May 21. She is the resident of a village in Rajanpur.
Riaz, s/o Muneer Jarirani is an 18 month old whose paralysis set in on May 21. He is a resident of a village in Retodero. His parents said that he had received one oral polio vaccine (OPV) dose through supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) but none through routine immunisation.
Zabia, d/o Noor Jan is a 23-month-old who was reported to have the onset of paralysis on May 22. She is a resident of a village in Khyber Agency.
According to her parents, Zabia did not receive a dose of OPV because their residence is situated in an area which has not been visited by vaccination teams since 2009 due to security issues.
Mohsin s/o Abdul Aleem is a 48 month old, who was reported as having the onset of paralysis on May 13. He is a resident of a village in Birmal tehsil in South Waziristan. According to his parents, he did not receive a dose of OPV.
Commenting on the report of new polio cases, Dr Elias Durry, senior coordinator for polio eradication at the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, “The WHO’s environmental surveillance system has clearly proven persistent circulation of wild polio virus in cities like Lahore and Rawalpindi in Punjab, and Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Furthermore, a recently initiated test in Sukkur has determined the circulation of the virus in Northern Sindh. Therefore, it is not a surprise that children in these areas remain vulnerable to the virus.”
Durry added that the two cases in Fata demonstrate the mammoth risk of not reaching every child in the region. “Circulation of the virus will continue unabated as long as the programme continues to miss a significant number of children due to security issues or a poor quality campaign.
“Discovering cases in areas which are easily accessible in Punjab and Sindh is very disturbing,” the focal person for National Polio Eradication, Shahnaz Wazir Ali told The Express Tribune.
Health officials in these provinces have been directed to embark on an in-depth investigation on the new cases so that further strategies can be chalked out and implemented to control the disease.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2012.
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