PESHAWAR: Children suffering from polio develop deformities between age 20 and 25 which leave them permanently disabled, health experts said on Monday, citing lack of awareness and supervision of a physiotherapist as major reasons for the lifetime handicap.
Briefing a World Health Organization (WHO) official, Habib Physiotherapy Complex Chairman Mehboobur Rehman said patients suffering from polio could lead a normal life through physiotherapy and by undergoing a minor surgery. He added if atrophy (the wasting of muscles) and deformity of limbs are prevented through proper exercise at an early age, permanent disability could be avoided.
“The Habib Physiotherapy Complex offers free physiotherapy for such children and the complications may be avoided if they are brought in at an early stage. Our complex coordinates with other organisations like the WHO, and corrective surgeries and artificial supports are provided free of cost,” said Rehman.
Those patients suffering from permanent disabilities since birth require vocational training and self-employment, for which assistance must be sought. The social welfare department plays its part, but lack of awareness among people and coordination among stakeholders is a huge constraint, he added.
On Sunday, the ninth case of polio was reported in Khyber Agency. The virus infected 12-month-old Maryam. In the past seven months, 13 polio cases have been reported from Fata, while five cases have been reported from K-P. Of the 22 cases so far in 2013, 17 have been of children who had not been vaccinated. Around 85% of the cases in the country are said to be because of inaccessibility to volatile areas, bans by Taliban warlords in North and South Waziristan and refusals cases from parents.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2013.