Health alert: New polio case surfaces in Khyber Agency

Agency’s polio count for the year pushed to seven; WHO calls for strengthening vaccination efforts.

News Desk June 03, 2012

Another polio case has been reported in Khyber Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), raising fears of a possible polio outbreak in the tribal region.

According to an update on the website of Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative on Saturday, the latest case of Type-1 polio has been confirmed from village Usai Khula Ghundi, Jamrud tehsil. The affected child, Salma, is 21 months old and is the daughter of Allah Noor. The new case has pushed Khyber Agency’s toll to seven and the national polio count to 17 from 10 districts and tribal agencies for the year, said the statement. It adds that of the seven polio cases reported from Khyber Agency so far this year, six are from the inaccessible Bara tehsil.

WHO states that there is a dire need to gain access and to strengthen vaccination activities in areas of Khyber Agency that have remained inaccessible to polio teams on account of the fragile security situation. It reports that over 150,000 children in Khyber Agency have been missed in polio vaccination campaigns since 2009.

However, WHO states that measures taken to combat polio even in accessible areas are not in line with the standards laid down in the augmented National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication. It adds that Khyber Agency is the only agency/district in the country, and also in Asia, that remains conspicuous for both Type-1 and Type-3 poliovirus in 2012.

Sewerage water sampling conducted by the organisation in three major cities during the month of May had termed the polio situation alarming, after majority of the samples tested positive of polio virus. The organisation had called for “broadening the scope of environmental sampling on a war-footing if the final reservoirs of poliovirus circulation are to be tracked and corrective actions instituted”.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) has hired two more vaccine suppliers to overcome the prevailing shortage of polio vaccines across the country.

Correction: The polio case update was reported on the website of Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2012.


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