Pakistan reports nine new cases of polio amid eradication drive

Of the nine, two were the wild poliovirus cases that were reported from Rahim Yar Khan district of Punjab and Killa Saifullah of Balochistan, paralysing the children completely.

Published: 18th September 2020 04:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th September 2020 04:34 PM   |  A+A-

A child being administered pulse polio drops at a booth in Marutheri Anganwadi in Kozhikode on Sunday (File Photo | TP Sooraj, EPS)

Representational image (File Photo | TP Sooraj, EPS)


ISLAMABAD: In a major blow to Pakistan's polio eradication campaign, nine new cases of the crippling disease have been reported from the country's two provinces, according to a media report. The nine new polio cases include seven of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type-2 (cVDPV2), Dawn news reported.

The "outbreak" of cVDPV2 is a cause of serious concern for the global health organisations as Pakistan is among the few countries reporting such cases which have almost been eliminated globally.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cVDPV remained a menace to the end game of polio eradication as it is one of the main causes of re-emerging polio apart from vaccination refusal. Of the nine, two were the wild poliovirus cases that were reported from Rahim Yar Khan district of Punjab and Killa Saifullah of Balochistan, paralysing the children completely.

The situation remained alarming in Punjab where five out of a total seven children were paralysed by cVDPV2, while others were reported from Hyderabad and Korangi in Sindh. In Punjab's Jhang district, authorities detected three cVDPV2 cases and one each in Toba Tek Singh and Faisalabad.

Some health experts expressed serious concern, saying the global health bodies have alerted Pakistan many times about their prime concern that it was almost the only country where cVDPV2 cases have been surfacing.

Particularly, they said, the WHO had in its assessment a couple of years back alerted that the risk of the spread of cVDPV2 in Pakistan was very high due to the high population movement and low population immunity against type 2 poliovirus.

They believed that the 'criminal negligence' on the part of the anti-polio programme authorities in following the standard guidelines in destroying the polio type 2 vaccine may be one of the prime reasons behind the resurgence of cVDPV2 cases in Pakistan.

The cVDPV2 was eradicated in 1999, leading to the withdrawal of the polio type 2 vaccine from the worldwide anti-polio programme by the WHO in 2016. The programme officials may have dumped this vaccine instead of destroying them as par the global protocols, resulting in the resurgence of cVDPV2 cases which was an alarming sign for Pakistan.

In Islamabad, the National Institute of Health (NIH) confirmed that two more polio cases have been found in Punjab and Balochistan, taking the national tally of the cases of the crippling disease to 72 so far this year.

According to an NIH official, a 21-month-old girl in Rahim Yar Khan district has become the victim of the virus. "The child's all four limbs and neck muscles have been paralysed. Moreover, the socioeconomic status of the family has been declared poor. Family had arrived from Karachi to Rahim Yar Khan three months ago," he said.

The one-year-old boy from Killa Saifullah is the 19th case of polio from Balochistan this year, according to the report.


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