Fourth polio case in Pakistan as child paralyzed in Shikarpur

04:13 PM, 3 Jun, 2024
Fourth polio case in Pakistan as child paralyzed in Shikarpur

ISLAMABAD: The wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) has left a child in Shikarpur district, Sindh, paralyzed, bringing the number of polio cases in Pakistan this year to four, causing serious concern among the stakeholders.

The Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio Eradication at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad confirmed the presence of WPV1 in stool samples of a 2.5-year-old child from Birkhan UC in Shikarpur.

The child exhibited paralysis symptoms starting on May 11, and genetic analysis linked the case to the previously eradicated YB3A cluster, reintroduced to Pakistan via cross-border transmission from Afghanistan last year.

Dr. Malik Mukhtar Bharat, Coordinator to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, expressed dismay over the incident, saying that polio is preventable through government-facilitated vaccination campaigns.

Both National and Provincial Polio Emergency Operations Centres have launched a comprehensive investigation into the case. Additionally, a vaccination campaign across 66 districts will commence on June 3 to boost immunity against the poliovirus among children.

This case, the first reported in Shikarpur in over four years, underscores the persistent threat of poliovirus transmission, particularly among under-vaccinated or unvaccinated children, often due to malnutrition or weak immunity.

The Pakistan Polio Programme is preparing for its fifth vaccination drive of the year, aiming to inoculate over 16.5 million children. The campaign highlights the crucial role of parents, caregivers, religious leaders, educators, and community members in ensuring widespread vaccination coverage to protect against this debilitating disease.