Three new polio cases surfaced in Khyber Agency on Monday, taking the count to 92, only one case away from last year’s tally of 93. Separately, in Sindh’s Sanghar district, one child was diagnosed with polio.
The cases from Khyber Agency have been confirmed by the Polio Virology Laboratory at the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad.
An official of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), on the condition of anonymity, said the children from Khyber Agency had not been immunised due to the worsening situation in the area and the militants’ ban on immunisation for the last three years.
The first polio affected child is named Sumbul, daughter of Waris Khan. The five-year-old girl is a resident of Aka Khel, tehsil Bara.
The second polio victim is one-year-old Samran, daughter of Khan Alam, who showed symptoms of paralysis on June 9. The child is a resident of Aka Khel Tirah, tehsil Bara.
Eighteen-month-old Ibrahim, son of Shakeel, who is from Kanday Miran Khel, also in tehsil Bara was diagnosed with poliovirus as well.
Separately, in Sindh, a 22-month-old infant was diagnosed with the polio in Sanghar district.
Rehamatullah, son of Gul Muhammad Brohi, was tested positive with the virus in a report issued by the National Institute of Health. The local doctors received the report on Saturday.
Brohi, a livestock breeder, lives in Peru Mal locality in union council Sethar, some 30 kilometers from Sanghar. He has ten children and Rehamatullah is the second youngest among them. All his siblings will now be checked for the virus.
“We were satisfied that no case had surfaced in Sanghar for over three years. But this occurrence has shaken us,” said Dr Tahir Kalyar, the district focal person of polio campaign. He told The Express Tribune that the child has been administered six polio doses since his birth but he still caught the virus.
“The overall results from the last three years campaign show that the health teams were effectively carrying out the immunisation drive. But this development has worried us with the possible gaps perhaps in keeping the drug in cold storage.”
Health officials are also tracing the origin of a virus in Khuzdar, Balochistan, and some other parts of Sindh like Mirpurkhas. According to him, Brohi frequently travelled to these parts of the country to trade livestock animals.
The World Health Organisation’s teams also reached Sanghar and took part in the mapping process within five square kilometres of the Peru Mal area.
The last case in Sanghar surfaced in May 2011, when a four-year-old child, Muhammad Ismail, was diagnosed with polio. The doctors claimed that Ismail had also received routine polio doses after his birth.
Of the total 92 cases this year, at least 69 have been reported from volatile Fata and 15 children were diagnosed with polio in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Similarly, eight cases were reported from Sindh, seven of which are from Karachi.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2014.
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