Polio eradication efforts of the government and donor organisations suffered another setback on Wednesday as four new cases surfaced in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas.
To make matters worse, it was revealed that in the aftermath of two consecutive attacks on a United Nations doctor and a local community worker in less than a week, World Health Organisation’s (WHO) offices in Karachi have been closed down.
If these new cases are confirmed and reported positive, the number of positive cases will reach 27 in the country and will take the number to 11 in tribal areas and six in K-P.
The new cases – which the spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Mazhar Nisar, confirmed – are said to have been reported in those areas where polio teams have not reached to inoculate children.
“Four new cases have been reported and Wild Polio Virus Type 1 is reported among the new cases,” Nisar confirmed to The Express Tribune.
The new cases have been reported in Mardan and Lakki Marwart districts of K-P and tribal regions of Khyber and Bajaur.
WHO offices remain shut
In Karachi, the WHO shut down its offices over security concerns.
Dr Elias Durry, WHO’s polio eradication programme chief in Pakistan, told The Express Tribune that they are concerned about the security of their staff. However, he insisted that the organisation has not suspended its operations in the city.
“It is not the time to pull out from Karachi and our campaigners are carrying on with their duties,” he added.
According to Dr Durry, there were about 22,000 children who were not immunised in Karachi after the campaign was suspended in Gadap Town following the July 17 attack on UN Dr Dedo Davis.
“Security constraints were the impediment for not reaching these children,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2012.
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