Polio case

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IT emerged on Friday that a 15-month old boy from North Waziristan was left paralyzed by wild poliovirus in the first such case reported in the country in over a year.

This is of course a great tragedy not only for the child and his family but is also very unfortunate for Pakistan and polio eradication efforts across the world.

There is no denying that Pakistan has come a long way and achieved major strides in the fight against this crippling virus as on January 27, the country had completed one year without detection of a polio case.

Credit for coming this far really goes to the efforts of successive governments and especially polio health workers who despite risk to their lives relentlessly carried forward the immunization campaigns against the virus.

Nonetheless, the latest case clearly suggests that the fight is far from over and more needs to be done to make Pakistan completely free from this polio.

Firstly, there is a need that this latest case is investigated by the authorities concerned to determine whether or not the affected child was administered with the anti-polio vaccine.

In this southern part of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, polio virus was detected in the environment last year and then subsequently emergency immunization campaigns were started to prevent spread of the wild polio virus.

If the affected child did not get the vaccination, it implies that the families especially in this part of the country still harbour misconceptions about the vaccine.

If this is the case, then awareness campaigns need to be launched in the tribal districts in order to convince the families that the vaccines are safe and important for the life and health of their children.

Tribal elders and religious scholars also need to be taken on board on the matter. Since positive environmental samples of wild polio virus have been found in different districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, efforts must be accelerated to reach every child with the polio vaccine by launching emergency vaccination campaigns.

At the same time, the world must also come forward and extend full support to Afghanistan to eradicate this virus. This is also vital for the success of anti-polio efforts in Pakistan.

 

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