Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries in the world, where polio is endemic. In the year 2019, at least 72 cases of polio in Pakistan were reported after only 12 in 2018, 8 in 2017, 20 in 2016 and 54 in 2015.
Poliomyelitis or polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system and sometimes leads to paralysis. The virus commonly affects younger children under the age of 5.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), America, Europe, Western Pacific and Southeast Asia are the polio free regions whereas, polio is still persistent in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.
The World Health Organization issued a statement issued on 3 October 2019 that they are “gravely concerned” by an increase in polio cases in Pakistan.
Rashid Razaq, the Co-ordinator of the Polio Emergency Operation Centre in Baluchistan, said the situation is worrying, further adding:
“This year so far in Pakistan we have reported about 72 cases, and our contribution from Baluchistan has been seven, unfortunately. The seven cases have been reported from four different districts, which include Killa Abdullah – we have three – Jaffarabad – two – and Quetta – one. And now recently one in Harnai.”Source: TRT World
In the present year, at least 72 cases have been reported up till now, whereas, only 12 were reported in the previous year, 2018.
Pakistani officials believe that the rise this year might be partly due to continuous traffic across the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.The attitude of the families of the polio workers is also a reason for rise of the polio cases, as many workers were killed in the past.
In April, a health worker and two policemen escorting vaccination teams were killed in separate attacks.
According to conservative estimates, at least 70 officials associated with the polio programme have been killed in Pakistan in the last seven years.
“(There is) suspicion about the vaccine service efficacy as well. So there are various reasons for that, whereas the lack of co-operation from the community, well as well as the quality of the complaints are so that we could not administer two drops to a child. All of these aspects needs to be improved,” said Razaq.Source: Relief Web
Why KPK has more polio victims than any other province?
Propaganda against polio vaccine and frequent refusals by parents to inoculate their children against the virus, increased the rate of polio cases to 53 in Kyber Pakhtunkhuwa.
Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta said,
“It has been learnt that none of them was vaccinated during polio campaigns and routine immunisation. Unfortunately, since the incident of Peshawar [in April], we have been facing severe resistance from parents. They have kept markers at their houses and manage to avoid vaccination by marking the fingers of their children on the very first day of polio campaign.”Source: Relief Web
Why do Parents refuse to get their children vaccinated?
“During investigations it emerged that not a single child was vaccinated during polio and routine immunisation campaigns, as their parents apparently did not allow the children to be vaccinated,” an official of Polio Virology Laboratory said.Source: Relief Web
Earlier during a nationwide polio campaign in April, students of a school in Mashokhel were rushed to the Hayatabad Medical Complex, Peshawar, with complaints about drug reaction.
However, initially it was indicated that a drama had been staged to spread propaganda against polio drives and all the children were safe. While some of the culprits were arrested and legal action was taken against them, resistance to polio vaccination has increased since then.
Since the virus has been diagnosed, each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated for the protection against the virus increases. Repeated immunizations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries to become polio free.
Currently, polio cases are only reported from two countries — Pakistan and Afghanistan — due to which the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) has recommended that every person, who intends to travel abroad, has to be vaccinated at the start of their journey.