The National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad confirmed five more wild type-1 polio cases in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas on Wednesday, taking the total number of cases to 115 during the current year.
According to the hospital authorities, the first victim is an 18-month-old boy, Abdul Rauf, from the Aka Khel village in Bara. The second victim, Hazeena, is 12-month-old and also belongs to Bara tehsil from the ShaaDal village.
Mihadullah from Rasool Khan was also tested positive for poliovirus. The fourth victim is 18-month-old Masood from Khushali, village Khushali Wazir. Eighteen-year-old Fida Rehman from Tal area, tehsil Miran Shah also contracted the virus.
Confirming the cases a FATA Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) official said that the victims had not been inoculated. He added that last year 39 polio cases were reported in Pakistan in over eight months while this year the cases have reached 115.
In Pakistan so far 115 polio cases have surfaced, of which 84 have been reported from Fata. Across Fata 61 cases have been reported from North Waziristan, eight from South Waziristan, 13 from Khyber Agency and two from FR-Bannu.
Similarly, 19 polio cases have been reported from K-P—eight from Peshawar, nine from Bannu, one from Mardan and one from Lakki Marwat.
Sindh confirmed 10 polio cases of which one case each was reported from Baldia Town, Orangi, Site, Landhi and North Karachi while, four cases were confirmed from Gadap Town. Another case was confirmed from Sanghar One case each was reported from Punjab and Balochistan.
Talking to The Express Tribune, National EPI Manager Dr Rana Safdar said that polio cases were expected to rise as the children in the region have remained inaccessible for over two years.
He said that so far four special anti-polio drives have been carried out in Bannu, FR Bannu, Kharak, Hangu to vaccinate the internally displaced persons’ children.
“It is a fact that due to the inaccessibility the polio virus is active in that area but now the quality anti-polio drives are the last strand of hope to reduce the number of cases within four to six weeks,” he said.
He however, added that the positive sign was that cases were being detected directly in NWA as earlier the victims had to be brought to Peshawar for verification.
Dr Safdar said that after confirmation of polio cases from relatively low risk zones of the country, the Prime Minister’s Polio Cell had written a letter to all the provincial health departments directing them to improve the quality of their polio campaigns.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2014.
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