KARACHI: As eight more cases were confirmed by health officials on Friday, the total number of confirmed polio cases in Pakistan this year rose to 202, breaking its 14-year old record, Express News reported.
In 2000, Pakistan had reported 199 poliovirus cases. With Friday’s confirmations, the cases reported so far in 2014 have risen to 202.
Of the cases confirmed on Friday, the majority were from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata areas.
One case each has been confirmed from Mardan, Peshawar, Nowshehra and Tank in K-P. Cases were also reported from Khyber Agency and South Waziristan in Fata. One case was confirmed from Qasim Town in Karachi and one from Quetta.
Out of the 202 poliovirus cases confirmed in 2014, 135 have been reported from Fata, 40 from K-P, 19 from Sindh, six in Balochistan and two in Punjab.
Speaking to Express News, State Minister for Health Sarah Afzal Tarar said that the rise in figures was a cause of concern but it was expected as majority of the cases were being confirmed from areas where immunisation drives have not been carried out since 2012.
“The poliovirus is largely being circulated in security-comprised areas,” she said.
Tarar requested Fata administration, as well as the K-P government make their vaccination camapaigns as effective as possible so that those children who have been left out, can be vaccinated.
She urged that efforts should concentrate on high-risk areas and vaccination teams be provided with adequate security.
“Out of the 5,500 union councils (UC), over 400 of them are classified as high-risk,” she said.
Tarrar, who is also the prime minister’s focal person on polio, added that it was unfortunate that Pakistan was the only country where people were against immunisation.
“We asked the provincial government to take extra measures during campaigns, impose a curfew, ban pillion riding, etc. It’s something we have to do.”
She said it was up to the provincial governments to implement immunisation programmes, since the federal government could only provide them with vaccines, operational cost, etc.