Pakistan reports fourth polio case of year

A woman receives polio drops while waiting to cross main Afghanistan-Pakistan land border crossing, in Pakistan. File
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

Pakistan has reported the fourth polio case of the year, jolting the country’s efforts to eradicate the crippling disease.

The case was reported on Saturday as the government appointed a new head of the polio eradication programme after his predecessor stepped down during the week.

The Dawn newspaper reported having a document showing that the victim was a 30-month-old child hailing from the Lakhi region of the Shikarpur district of the Sindh province.

The child was taken to a hospital after he suddenly developed weakness in both lower limbs and could not hold his neck up, according to the report.

This case was the first to be reported from the Sindh province, as the previous three victims belonged to Balochistan.

According to the National Institute of Health in Islamabad, the newest case was also of the Type-1 Wild Poliovirus (WPV1), just like the previous three cases.

The Prime Minister’s coordinator on National Health Services, Dr. Malik Mukhtar Bharat, said teams have been deployed to conduct a full case investigation.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Health Services appointed Muhammad Anwarul Haq, the ministry’s joint secretary, as the National Emer­gency Operation Centre for Polio Eradication coordinator on Saturday.

He replaced Dr. Shahzad Baig, who resigned on Friday, citing personal reasons.

Additionally, a new campaign to vaccinate over 16.5 million children under the age of five in 66 districts will be launched on Monday.

The drive, planned ahead of the peak travel season of Eidul Azha, will fully cover 36 districts and partially 30 districts.

These areas included Islamabad, 20 districts of Balochistan, 23 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 16 of Sindh and six of Punjab. It will be the fifth polio vaccination campaign of the year.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic, according to the World Health Organisation.

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