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Pakistan is one of the two last countries in the world, alongside Afghanistan, where polio cases are being reported. — AP/File Pakistan is one of the two last countries in the world, alongside Afghanistan, where polio cases are being reported. — AP/File

Polio cases surface in Balochistan, KP

ISLAMABAD: Two more polio cases have been reported, one each from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, taking the tally for the current year to 60.

The tally is five times higher than last year’s and 7.5 times higher than in 2017.

An official of the Polio Virology Labora­tory at the National Institute of Health (NIH), requesting anonymity, said that the case from Balochistan was reported from Gulistan region of Qilla Abdullah district.

“The child who has been paralysed, due to polio virus, is a 17-month-old-boy and not a single dose of vaccine was administered to him as his uncle and grandfather were refusing on religious grounds,” he said.

“Unfortunately we have been facing severe resistance in the area and in April this year two female polio workers were murdered there. We have been considering seeking support of the Army to ensure vaccination in the area,” he said.

Parents refused to get their children vaccinated in two cases reported on Wednesday

He said that second case was reported from Lakki Marwat where a five-month-old girl had been infected with the virus of the crippling disease.

“Investigation shows that it was also a case of refusal as parents had kept markers at their home and used to mark the fingers of child on first day of polio campaign to show that child was already vaccinated,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Babar bin Atta, confirmed that two more polio cases were reported from Balochistan and KP.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus and mainly affects children under the age of five. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease.

Every time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free.

There are only two countries in the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where polio cases are being reported. Pakistan remains under a polio-linked travel restriction imposed by the World Health Organisation due to which, since 2014, every person travelling abroad has to carry a polio vaccination certificate.

Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2019

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