Four more children from the tribal areas have fallen victim to the crippling polio virus.
The National Institute of Health Islamabad reported the fresh cases after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the polio virus.
So far, this year the disease has disabled 31 children from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). In all 43 children across Pakistan were hit by the polio virus during the current year.
The ban imposed by militant commanders on polio vaccination teams in North and South Waziristan Agencies and persistent security threats in other tribal agencies are hindering polio eradication efforts.
The NIH on Friday confirmed the presence of the crippling virus in the stool samples of 30-months old Zulqarnain of Bara tehsil, Khyber Agency. The child has not received the oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the last 10 months due to volatile security situation.
The same tribal agency has also reported two dozen cases of Sabin Like (II) Poliomyelitis (SL2), however due to the peculiar scientific and genetic nature of the SL2 virus strain, these cases have yet to be included in the national polio case count tally.
The other three cases were reported from North Waziristan Agency where a nine-month old boy from Miramshah, and two girls aged 16 months and 12 months from Mir Ali contracted the disease. The children had not received the vaccination due to the ban imposed by the local warlord in the middle of 2012.
“We are unofficially confirming these four cases on the basis of lab reports….the official notification will be issued in due time,” an official of the Expended Programme on Immunisation Fata said wishing not to be named.
He said a recent move to administer anti-polio drops to every child at the security checkpoints of Bannu district on the entry and exit routes of the North and South Waziristan proved to be a great success.
The teams are vaccinating 7,000-8,000 children in a month, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2013.
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