A one-year-old boy from North Waziristan was left paralysed by wild polio casein the third such case reported in Pakistan this year, it emerged on Sunday.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Health, the wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) was confirmed in the boy from Miranshah on May 15 by the polio laboratory at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad. The onset of paralysis was observed in the child on May 14.

After staying a polio-free country for almost 15 months, Pakistan reported its first two cases of the virus on April 22 and April 30, respectively — both from North Waziristan. The victims, a 15-month-old boy and a two-year-old girl, belonged to the Mir Ali tehsil of North Waziristan. On January 27, Pakistan had seen one year without the detection of a polio case. The only infection in 2021 was reported from Balochistan while all other federating and administrative units remained polio free.

“Another child will live with lifelong physical disabilities because of this preventable disease. As a country, we must understand the human cost of not eradicating polio from Pakistan. Every polio case is a huge tragedy,” lamented Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel. He said that in the absence of a cure for the virus, the only way to protect children from the disease is vaccination.

“Since January, we have taken emergency measures in six southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to save children from wild polio [virus] and these measures have been further extended and intensified,” Patel pointed out. The districts, he continued, had been identified by the polio programme as the area most at risk and an emergency action plan was initiated which allowed the programme to reach more children than before.

“I am personally monitoring all polio eradication efforts and will be going to all areas at high risk for polio to oversee operations on ground,” the minister added. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Aamir Ashraf Khawaja said that the ministry had feared an uptick in the cases after the first one was reported. “Unfortunately, there may be more until every child is reached by the vaccine.”

Earlier, Dawn reported that polio resurgence had come mainly due to ‘fake’ finger marking. The vaccinators mark fingers of the vaccinated children but the reluctant families get the fingers of their children marked without being vaccinated,” a senior health worker told Dawn. He said the health workers accepted the fake finger marking demand to prevent reprisals by parents and their community.

North Waziristan district health officer Dr Gulistan Wazir had said the vaccinators would be taking religious leaders and elders along during the future vaccination campaign to prevent fake finger marking and ensure that the targeted children receive drops. “We have support of the district administration and paramilitary forces to dig out fake vaccination. In future, this issue would be resolved,” he said.

North Waziristan assistant DHO Dr Shamsur Rehman had said that the visiting teams from Islamabad and Peshawar held meetings with jirga members and religious scholars and prevailed upon them to throw their support behind anti-polio efforts to do away with vaccination refusals. Meanwhile, vaccinators in the area had complained that 110,000 children were targeted for polio vaccination and fewer than 1,000 vaccination refusals were reported.

Source: this news is originally published by dawn

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