Polio-endemic countries: Pakistan tops list with 72 cases this year

Published: December 5, 2013

PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS, APP AND INP

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan has again lost the battle against polio this year with 72 cases reported in the country so far, surpassing Nigeria which reported 50 cases and Afghanistan where only nine cases surfaced.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), last week Pakistan reported six polio cases while Afghanistan and Nigeria did not report any. Comparing the number of polio cases reported last year in Pakistan which were 57 with this year’s 72, it is clear that despite the tall claims made by the government, the battle is far from over. It’s a fact that when polio virus surfaces in one country, no other country across the globe is safe.

Considering the current scenario, efforts were made to make the last national anti-polio drive of 2013, held from November 18 to 20, a success. During the campaign, 33.1 million children were vaccinated, while 2.34 million were missed for reasons other than parental refusals. Of these, 622, 354 were reported from Balochistan, 501,870 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), 477,329 in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) this includes 260,000 from North and South Waziristan, 126,380 from Punjab, 609,084 from Sindh, 2,895 from Islamabad, 438 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 217 from Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).

Polio teams recorded 47,099 parental refusals nationwide, of these, 24,968 were from K-P, 14,978 from Sindh, 5,068 from Balochistan, 889 from Fata, 910 from Punjab, 251 from Islamabad, 32 from AJK and 3 from G-B.

“We’re moving forward but we’re facing challenges,” said WHO Polio Eradication chief Dr Elias Durry. While talking to The Express Tribune, he said for Pakistan the inaccessibility of polio teams in Fata is one of the major hurdles in stopping polio virus transmission in the country. Talking about the number of children missed in Balochistan, he said so far no case has been reported from the province but even if a single child is missed, he will be susceptible to the virus. He was of the view that Pakistan still had a chance to fight against polio and achieve the set target but it required commitment and quality anti-polio drives.

Chief of the Prime Minister’s Polio Cell Dr Safdar Rana said polio teams faced inaccessibility issues even in low-risk areas from where cases have been reported this year, adding to the challenges that the country is contending with in its fight against polio. “This is because of immunity gap that exists in the community.”

Rana said that there is a need to improve the quality of polio campaigns and ensure that not even a single child under age of five years is missed. “December to April, a low transmission period for polio virus, is a time to do or die for Pakistan. This provides an opportunity to curtail the polio virus transmission by carrying out high quality anti-polio drives throughout the country.” The best possible solution to inaccessibility issues is negotiation with people who oppose the anti-polio drive as it has now become a political issue, he stated.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Mirza
    Dec 5, 2013 - 1:59AM

    So we are number one and maintaining that position without any chance of meaningful change. Most parents have refused vaccine for their children in KPK and what is their leadership doing about it?
    If we do not improve this situation most donor contries would stop the aid and even loans and there would be a travel ban imposed on Pakistanis from going abroad and spreading the disease.

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  • Rafi Ka Deewana
    Dec 5, 2013 - 2:05AM

    The world will never forgive Pakistan – even hundred years from. Each time a child dies (or paralyzed) because of polio anywhere in the world, Pakistan will be cursed upon.

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  • Natasha Syed
    Dec 5, 2013 - 2:12AM

    It is exactly news items like the one above that make my blood boil. Why can’t we eradicate Polio in spite of all the help we receive from the likes of UN, overseas and internal NGOs and other health agencies again both international and domestic. Are we that indifferent to the sufferings of our own countrymen that we can’t seem to get our act together in order to erase this deadly virus which has the potential of affecting not only us Pakistanis but also people all over the world as evidenced by the strains found in Syria. Come on Pakistan, let us get our act together for once. Think of the current situation as a war with a neighboring country as we all need to come together to eradicate this menace. Sometimes only the cry of war against a common enemy seems to unite this nation *sigh

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  • Waz
    Dec 5, 2013 - 2:14AM

    If India can eradicate it, surely we can also. Come on Pakistan, let us not allow India, our so called arch enemy to get ahead of us. Let us show them what we Pakistanis are made off. Maybe this was the rallying cry that was required to get all citizens of this great nation on board.

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  • fact is fact
    Dec 5, 2013 - 4:07AM

    ridiculous

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  • RAW is WAR
    Dec 5, 2013 - 6:45AM

    @Waz:

    get ahead of us?

    In what field were Pakistanis ever ahead of India?

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  • Zarb e Hanood
    Dec 5, 2013 - 6:52AM

    All the more reason why the Government of India should not institute a liberal visa programme for Pakistan nationals. Let the Polio virus not be added to the list of unwelcome exports from Pakistan to India such as terrorists, counterfeit Indian currency notes and narcotics.

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  • csmann
    Dec 5, 2013 - 7:21AM

    You follow the polio virus,you will find Taliban.Bombs are not the only thing they carry around.

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  • hasan
    Dec 5, 2013 - 8:46AM

    all the while our politicians and establishment busy in vacation and building billions in foreign countries, and buying junk useless old toys from china. what a shame to be a citizen here..

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  • Indian
    Dec 5, 2013 - 8:52AM

    Pakistan can’t eradicate polio by making India as arc rival. Pakistan should make anti polio Pakistani’s as arc rival and fight. I do wonder why Arab parents don’t oppose polio but only Pakistani’s do.

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  • Diretide
    Dec 5, 2013 - 9:02AM

    With successful vaccination issue a certificate to every child, make this certificate mandatory for issuing each and every national document for any individual. For example a person without Polio Vaccination certificate would not be able to make birth certificate, CNIC, driving licence, passport, any educational institute etc. Issue NTN to individuals based on Polio certificates of their dependents and double the taxes of those who arent able to produce a polio certificate. Lets then see who denies to their sons and daughter a vaccination.

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  • Raj - USA
    Dec 5, 2013 - 9:32AM

    ISPR should make a documentary showing polio victims and their lifelong sufferings to educate and evoke the sentiments of the parents. Such a documentary made by anyone else, say for instance by an NGO or a movie producer will not have that much effect and may even have the opposite effect.

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  • Pravin
    Dec 5, 2013 - 9:37AM

    This is one war, I certainly want Pakistan to win for the sake of innocent young children.

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  • Indian Wisdom
    Dec 5, 2013 - 10:17AM

    If every country ( but three) in the world have achieved polio free status, including the poorest and most strife ridden countries ,there is no reason why Pakistan can not achieve it…… In fact, in spite of all the problems, it is still better off in health services and associated infrastructure compared to the poorest Sub Saharan countries.
    Only thing it requires is strong political will to achieve this and good IEC/BCC campaign as well as participation of all social/religious leaders….

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  • Spock
    Dec 5, 2013 - 10:40AM

    Where does hundreds of millions donated by rest of the world goes?
    I think it is by design, if there is no polio then there is no funding.

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  • Np
    Dec 5, 2013 - 10:46AM

    So AJK with its own PM and parliament is not Azad after all – eh? Why else would those figures be included here. So let me ask this? how many senators and PNAs does AJK send to the national parliament? Does it get a share of finances that provinces like Punjab, Balochistan, Sind and KPK get?

    In India J&K gets representation in national parliament proportionate to its population and also gets due share in finances just like any other state in India.

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  • Gp65
    Dec 5, 2013 - 10:50AM

    @RAW is WAR:
    Actually until early 90s Pakistan’s per capita GDP and infrastructure like roads, electricity, airports was better than India. Key difference was India remained non aligned and had to pay the price for that. Pakistan chose to ride the US coat tails.Recommend

  • Gp65
    Dec 5, 2013 - 10:54AM

    @Pravin:
    I agree whole heatedly. If countries like Somalia which are also war torn can eradicate polio – Pakistan can and must. The children deserve that.

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  • Anoni
    Dec 5, 2013 - 11:11AM

    Thanks to Dr Shakeel and drones. The innocent but scared people in western/northern area don’t want to get their kid vacinated .. thinking of the vacine as evil plot.

    Wish we could deliver Education to let them know not every thing is evil

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  • Ali S
    Dec 5, 2013 - 11:23AM

    I might have an idea why the situation is so bad in Balochistan, FATA and KPK (inaccessibility and lack of security), but the numbers in Sindh and Punjab are completely baffling – especially the number of parental refusals in Sindh, an area that’s supposedly ‘culturally tolerant’.

    If these numbers do not go down significantly in the next few years, there’s a chance that a complete visa restriction may be placed on all Pakistani citizens. It seems like our government and people don’t realize that.Recommend

  • Yusuf
    Dec 5, 2013 - 12:28PM

    first,
    -WHO should impose a complete travel ban on Pakistanis travelling abroad. Thay may have the desired result. Hit the worker class going too the Arab states, and they may pause to think about the consequences of not having children vaccinated. Brutal but unaviodable, sadly.

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  • Masood Khan
    Dec 5, 2013 - 2:13PM

    What are PTI-JI party workers doing on KPK highways; why don’t they divert their engergies towards a far noble cause, polio eradiction, than stopping and breaking into NATO containers?

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  • Nadeem Mirbahar
    Dec 5, 2013 - 3:22PM

    Very sorry to see this news story about the polio cases surfaced. I Delhi Colony Karachi, we did not observe any team on ground and many children missed. I fear may be in these number some numbers are of ignored areas and towns by health visitors who took the benefit of situation and did not pay the visit and showed area as refused one.

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  • Stellar
    Dec 5, 2013 - 5:25PM

    India will get the polio free country status next year on January, 2014, if no polio case surfaced till then. So there is no reason to feel great about it. No need to go chest thumping about it as yet, and deriding others in this humanitarian issue is even worst.

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-11-26/varanasi/444860551polio-case-polio-eradication-programme-polio-free-country

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  • Moiz Omar
    Dec 5, 2013 - 5:36PM

    This is very shameful. Ashamed to be a Pakistani at this moment,

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  • netizen
    Dec 5, 2013 - 5:36PM

    India ranks highest in deadly diseases like T.B, cholera and AIDS in the world.
    With an estimated 3.8 million cases recorded in 2008, India continues to be the highest tuberculosis burden country in the world, the ministry said.

    India ranks third in the world in HIV aids, with more than 2.4 million Indians suffering from it.

    http://www.pharmaquest.biz/Health-Care-Watch/Health-Insights/India-ranks-highest-in-TB-burden-worldwide.html

    http://www.medwiser.org/hiv-aids/around-the-world/aids-in-india/

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  • Jules
    Dec 5, 2013 - 6:24PM

    @RAW is WAR:
    Ever? Read up a bit on your recent history mate (few decades back). Karachi’s economy was once the envy of Asia long before India had managed to become a formidable opponent.
    If you’d like a break down of poverty in India, I’m sure you know where to find it.
    Blessed with hard workers who worked to earn their wealth no doubt, India also tops the list of poorly distributed wealth. Your very own Mukesh Ambani’s net worth is roughly $21.5 billion, according to Forbes, while almost half of India’s population does not have enough money to eat. In terms of competing with a nation 6 times smaller. deviating from it’s original track, plagued with religious zealots and a s* sack, greedy, useless government, India is certainly ahead of the game; in terms of competing with developed countries (or countries that actually matter, according to the oh so omniscient West), I think you know where you stand.

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  • Nobody
    Dec 5, 2013 - 6:29PM

    @netizen:
    So what? Should Pakistan compete with deadliest diseases as well? Stop caring about India and focus on Pakistan. Will never understand this obsession both countries have with each other. Wake up. It’s not 1947.

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  • Dec 5, 2013 - 6:56PM

    @Mirza: Your question “Most parents have refused vaccine for their children in KPK and what is their leadership doing about it?”
    Answer:- They are busy stopping the drone attacks and helping the innocent violence mongers.

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  • genesis
    Dec 5, 2013 - 10:15PM

    @Moiz Omar:
    This is the price tha nation has to pay if ou liten to mullahs and ghazis and moulvis.they are against science.

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  • Dec 5, 2013 - 10:56PM

    Polio is an eradicable disease. Pakistan is the only country where polio cases have in fact increased in the last few years. Even Afghanistan and Nigeria, the two countries where the disease still exists, have not reported any new cases. It is easy to get rid of the disease, but the people have to have the will. World Health Organization and Non-profits like Melinda and Gates Foundation have been working very hard to vaccinate every child in Pakistan from this debilitating disease. It is sad that terrorist organizations have targeted polio workers from administering the vaccine. It is important for all parties concerned to unite against the people who have stopped polio workers from doing their work and help Pakistani children to lead healthy, fruitful lives.

    Abdul Quddus
    DET- United States Central Command

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  • Rex Minor
    Dec 5, 2013 - 11:03PM

    @Yusuf:
    On the contrary! Pakistan should ban foreigners entry into the country in case they are vrus carriers!

    Rex Minor

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  • 1984
    Dec 6, 2013 - 8:29PM

    @Rex Minor:
    Oh really ??? I never saw people standing in queues before Pakistan’s embassy to get a visa….

    Even the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir saw more foreign tourists last year than your entire Pakistan which will further dwindle after the attack on mountaineers….

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  • 1984
    Dec 6, 2013 - 11:21PM

    @netizen:

    India has 1.2 Billion people..So in terms of gross count,India will lead in various sectors with competition

    India has the been among highest number of doctors,highest number of engineers,school going kids and so on

    Similarly,India will have the highest number of patients in diabetes,AIDS,TB etc

    The link u provided about HIV,it says that the net percentage of HIV patients in India is 89th ranking…U know ur pure Pakistan has more AIDS victims per 1000 people than India…

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  • rasgullah
    Dec 7, 2013 - 5:10AM

    This country is a joke.

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  • Moiz Omar
    Dec 29, 2013 - 12:32AM

    @genesis:
    Yeah, I agree.

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