NewsDesk @bactiman63

The Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme reported today on the fourth wild poliovirus case of the year in North Waziristan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Image (cropped)/ Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme

The 13-month-old boy had an onset of paralysis on 5 May in Mir Ali.  The case was confirmed by the Pakistan National Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad on Monday, 23 May. This is the third case from Mir Ali this year.

“Another child in North Waziristan has been paralyzed by wild poliovirus. This 13-month-old child will live with disabilities for the rest of his life because of a virus that is entirely preventable. This is a collective loss for Pakistan,” said Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel.

“Over 99% of the world is now polio-free. Our children also deserve a life free from this incurable disease,” he added.

The southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, namely North and South Waziristan, DI Khan, Bannu, Tank and Lakki Marwat, are at highest risk of wild poliovirus. Bannu also reported two positive environmental samples between April and May this year, confirming that ongoing wild poliovirus transmission is not limited to North Waziristan.

“Parents don’t realize that every time they refuse vaccination or mark their child’s finger without giving them the polio drops during polio campaigns, they are exposing their children to lifelong disabilities. There is a huge cost to this practice,” said Federal Health Secretary Aamir Ashraf Khawaja.

According to preliminary investigations, the child had not received any dose of the Oral Polio Vaccine.

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All children confirmed with wild polio this year belong to North Waziristan, where more cases are expected due to high refusal rates and instances of finger-marking without vaccination during campaigns. The Pakistan Polio Programme has conducted emergency campaigns in the area, while children are administered the vaccine at all entry and exit points from southern KP to the rest of the province and across the border to Afghanistan to control the spread of the virus.

“All parents must realize the risk that wild polio continues to pose to children all over Pakistan. Please ensure that your children are vaccinated in the ongoing nationwide campaign being conducted in all 156 districts of the country,” the health minister added.

The nationwide immunization campaign started on 23 May and will continue across the country until 27 May.

With the new case, the global count for wild polio in 2022 has reached five from the endemic countries, with one case reported from Afghanistan in February.