AS efforts are afoot to end poliovirus for good, the year’s first environmental sample report showed some encouraging and positive signs as no virus was found in sewage samples collected from thirty seven cities.
However, samples from Lahore tested positive prompting the authorities to start a vaccination campaign in 26 Union Councils.
The sewage samples are important in detecting the virus’ prevalence in the country. These samples are a basic parameter to determine the success of polio campaigns.
The presence of poliovirus in sewage also shows low immunity in children and the risk of contracting the virus by them.
In our view, negative detection from a number of important cities such as Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Qilla Abdullah, Quetta, Karachi and southern KP region from where positive samples were reported over the years, is no less than a big achievement – the credit of which definitely goes to the authorities concerned, especially the polio workers who despite all odds and threats to their lives continued their campaign to reach every child.
But there is no need to be complacent at all. The country was at the verge of complete elimination of poliovirus but then cases started surfacing last year.
20 children were paralysed and all of them belonged to the southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa including seventeen from North Waziristan, two from Lakki Marwat and one from South Waziristan.
Hence, it is really important that the anti-polio campaigns are carried forward in a sustained manner, ensuring that no child is left out, including in these tribal districts.
Simultaneously, awareness campaigns must also continue sensitizing the public at large about the importance of vaccination.