PESHAWAR: A majority of the victims of poliovirus, reported so far this year, are male children whose parents refused polio drops fearing infertility among their sons, a recent study has revealed.
First poliovirus case of the year was confirmed in Karachi’s Gadap area on January 17 whereas the last was reported from South Waziristan Agency on July 27.
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The study, carried out by the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), said over 70% of the poliovirus cases confirmed across the country in 2016 comprised male children, adding that people still believed in the myth that polio drops led to infertility.
A senior health official told The Express Tribune that 14 cases have been confirmed in the country in 2016, of whom 10 are male children. He said in the poliovirus cases confirmed in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) the victims were two male children.
“Both the kids, belonging to the SWA, could not be inoculated against the crippling virus even once during routine immunisation campaigns,” the official said, adding that majority of the cases were reported among the refusing families.
“Three [male] out of five Pakistani kids confirmed to have been infected by the poliovirus were refused polio drops,” the official said. “One of the two cases among Afghan refugees was also of a male child, who had been refused drops,” he added.
“I don’t know why they don’t understand that it [poliovirus causes infertility] is just a myth and the drops only killed the virus and protected kids from becoming a burden to their family,” said the official, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The survey also revealed that the maximum number of children infected by the virus was below the age of 20 months as it also held mothers responsible for the cases.
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Officials said infants always bother mothers when they wake up but mothers must consider the gravity of the issue since they usually refuse polio teams for the reason that kids would disturb them once they wake up and they [mothers] will not be able to do other routine work at home.
The EPI provincial coordinator Akbar Khan said they have divided the province into three tiers: Tier-1 consists of district Peshawar while Tier-2 and Tier-3 both comprise 12 districts each. However, the Tier-3 is considered to be the most successful part in terms of coverage.
Meanwhile, anti-polio campaign feared to be delayed in certain parts of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Frontier Regions (FRs) due to shortage of vaccine has been resumed, said a press release.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2016.
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