A new case of polio has been recorded in the provincial capital after a long hiatus of six years, said health officials.
Uzair Muhammad is the ill-fated 12-month-old son of Dost Muhammad, resident of Aijazabad-I, Gulbahar no. 4, a densely populated area. The onset of paralysis in the child occurred on June 30, 2013.
Uzair has not been administered a single dose of the polio vaccine and was consistently missed by polio teams for unknown reasons, shared an official of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI).
Because the site where the virus emerged is a congested neighbourhood, the EPI official stipulates the single incident could lead to a widespread outbreak in Peshawar if an emergency round of immunisation is not conducted within the next two weeks.
Sewage water samples from the city have been persistently positive for the polio virus since the last two years. Incidentally, Shaheen Muslim Town, Gulbahar is the area where the sewage samples were recently collected from. The information was passed on to the provincial government, but polio teams made no rounds as the health department and EPI authorities maintain security challenges continue to exist.
The World Health Organisation has always pointed Peshawar out as the biggest threat to polio eradication in the country, noted the official.
This is the fifth polio case reported from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; the tally in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas has reached 12 so far. In 2013, 21 reports of people contracting polio have been reported across the country.
Of these, 17 have emerged due to the ‘ban’ on vaccinations imposed by the Taliban, security threats or because of parents’ refusal to allow drops to be administered to their children.
Earlier on Friday, a child was reported to have contracted the virus in Khyber Agency, taking the agency’s total to eight over the last six weeks. In 2012, Khyber Agency reported a total of 11 polio cases, 8 of which were from Bara sub-division.
Two cases each have been reported in Sindh and Punjab so far this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2013.