Endemic threat: ‘Pakistan can transmit polio abroad’

Independent Monitoring Board praises Sehat Ka Insaaf drive.


Asad Zia March 27, 2014
PHOTO: SHAFIQ MALIK/EXPRESS

PESHAWAR:


In a damning verdict, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has cautioned that the current situation of polio in Pakistan is a ‘powder keg’ that could ignite widespread polio transmission.


“If the current trend continues, Pakistan will be the last place on earth in which polio exists,” wrote IMB Chairperson Sir Liam Donaldson in a letter to the World Health Organisation director general Dr Margaret Chan in February.

The letter – a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune – says the new government has been slow to grasp the severity of the situation, adding that the number of polio cases in Pakistan is going in the wrong direction.

The most serious situation is in the northwest, where the virus is enjoying unencumbered circulation at great human cost, the letter says. “We welcome the firm and intelligently designed anti-polio campaign [Sehat Ka Insaf] under way in Peshawar, but such innovation must be sustained and promoted elsewhere in the country,” it adds.



“The adequacy of the government’s plans will be in full public view at our May meeting and at the subsequent World Health Assembly,” the letter says.

Commenting on the letter, an official of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Department said in 2012, 58 polio cases were reported in Pakistan; the number surged to 93 in 2013. 36 cases have already been reported this year. He added that the situation was dangerous not only for Pakistan but for the whole world.

He said there were misunderstandings amongst the government and donors.

“The success of the K-P government’s drive is reversible unless polio is eradicated from Khyber Agency and [North and South] Waziristan agencies,” he said.

Talking to The Express Tribune, the focal person of the chief minister’s Polio Monitoring Cell, Dr Imtiyaz Khan, said that the IMB assessed progress towards the attainment of a polio-free world and its views were very broad.

He said millions of children in North Waziristan and Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency had not been vaccinated since June 2012 due to a ban by militants and as a result the virus could spread to other parts of the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2014.

COMMENTS (7)

confused | 7 years ago | Reply

Govt should not issue passports to cavemen who refuse their children a right to polio-free living.

Mwaqar | 7 years ago | Reply

@sharabi: SHARABI SAAB when u get sober after drinking,visit FATA,KPK etc and find out if Pakistan is really polio free now.

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