HYDERABAD / KARACHI: In a short span of less than two months, the second polio case has been detected in Badin district.
Seven-year-old Imran Jat tested positive for polio on Tuesday. Earlier in November, Imran’s nine-month-old cousin, Alim Khatoon, was diagnosed with polio, said district focal person Dr Mehboob Khowaja. The cousins live in the same home in Mohammad Qasim Jat village in Badin district’s Kario Ganwar rural town.
The district focal person told The Express Tribune that a report on Tuesday confirmed the virus in Imran. According to him, the boy was immunised in eight or nine polio eradication campaigns. “But they belong to a migrant family and the record shows that he was given [polio] drops in different areas of Badin like Pangrio, Matli and Tando Ghulam Ali,” said Dr Khowaja, adding that the infant was diagnosed with polio in early November.
Javed Jat, the boy’s father, could not be contacted for his version.
A total of eight polio cases have surfaced in Sindh in 2016, taking the total number of reported cases in Pakistan to 19. As the virus refuses to die down, the World Health Organization in 2015 made it compulsory for Pakistanis travelling to foreign countries to undertake a polio examination. According to the coordinator of EOC, Sindh, Fayaz Jatoi, the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) of Sindh has carried out three campaigns in the Sujawal and Badin belt in the last two months and has another campaign due from December 19 as a response to the virus surfacing in the region. This should curb virus circulation, he said.
“We have eliminated the virus [to a greater extent] and we must concentrate equally on areas that are considered non high risk,” said Jatoi. He added that they need to finish the job and secure the Badin belt immediately. According to him, when polio eradication is near, the virus fights for its survival and travels to areas where you least expect. This is the case with Badin, he said, adding it will also attack children with low immunity and nutritional status.
Sindh has made major progress in stopping polio transmission, said Jatoi, adding that the polio eradication programme in the province has resulted in dramatic reductions in the numbers of cases and virus circulation in the past year. The environmental samples are now clear in Sindh, he confirmed.
A six-day polio campaign will be conducted from December 19 all over Sindh, with a target of 8.3 million children. Out of the 8.3 million, 2.3 million children under five years of age will be the target for Karachi. The recent polio campaign conducted in Karachi has got 96% coverage, which is a positive sign, added Jatoi.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2016.