ISLAMABAD: The number of polio cases this year in the country has increased to 19 after a new case was reported from South Waziristan — the first case from the area after a gap of two years.

Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health (NIH) on Thursday confirmed the infection in a six-month-old boy.

Of the 19 children who have been paralysed by wild poliovirus this year, two belong to Lakki Marwat, 16 from North Waziristan and one from South Waziristan. All three areas lie in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

As Pakistan eyes complete eradication of the virus, controlling the outbreak in southern KP remained the focus of the Pakistan Polio Programme.

The authorities have introduced injectable vaccines that have greater community acceptance to overcome the resistance against oral drops.

“The humanitarian crisis, in the wake of floods, poses grave challenges to polio eradication efforts as we grapple with the displacement of millions of people,” said federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel in a statement.

“This mass displacement will lead to the spread of wild poliovirus, making it even more important to vaccinate children against polio.”

According to the polio programme, despite rains and floods, a vaccination campaign against the virus was carried out in August in all accessible areas.

While the immunisation campaign could not be conducted in Balochistan and 23 districts of Sindh, the programme still managed to reach nearly 33 million children in the country. The next campaign is planned for October.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2022

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