Tally rises to 69 as three more polio cases reported – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: Three more cases of polio have been reported in the country — two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one in Sindh — taking the total number of such cases to 69.

An official at the Polio Virology Laboratory of the National Institute of Health (NIH) said on Saturday the cases of Khyber Pakhtun­khwa were reported in Lakki Marwat and Bannu. The case of Sindh was reported in Jamshoro.

He said that in Lakki Marwat district an 18-month-old girl had been paralysed due to the virus. The girl lives in the Zindhe Falak Sher village, in Serai Naurang tehsil.

During investigations it was revealed that she had never been administered polio drops, the official added.

The victim from Bannu — a two-year-old girl hailing from the Zalol Khel village of Wazir tehsil — had been vaccinated against the crippling disease just once.

The emergency operation centre (EOC) for polio in Sindh said the third case had been reported in the Kotri taluka of Jamshoro district.

Officials said a 31-month-old boy had unfortunately become the province’s seventh victim of the year.

They said the child was well until Aug 27 when he suffered fever and chest congestion. “The next day, the child was hit by a water tanker while playing on the street, after which he turned irritable and found himself unable to move his legs. He was ultimately referred to a private hospital where it was established that he had polio,” said an EOC official.

An EOC spokesperson said the officials were investigating as to how many doses of polio drops he had been administered, if at all.

The NIH official said that although the boy’s family had claimed that he had been administered three doses of polio drops, this had not been mentioned in the vaccination card.

Meanwhile, in order to ensure that important policymakers and stakeholders are informed at all times of the total number of polio cases in the country, the government has decided to install LCDs in key buildings, including the Presidency and the national and the provincial assemblies.

The LCDs being installed on the directives of President Dr Arif Alvi would show how many cases had been reported and from where. Moreover, constituency-wise details of the environmental samples (showing presence of the virus in sewage) would also be displayed.

According to a document signed by Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Babar bin Atta, and addressed to the president, it has been decided that LCD screens displaying polio updates would be installed at various locations from World Polio Day to be observed on Oct 24.

The LCDs would be installed in the lobby of the Presidency, the National Assembly of Pakistan, all the six provincial/constitutional assemblies, all five Chief Minister secretariats and the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.

Mr Atta said that during a meeting with the president it had been proposed that the LCDs be put up at key locations so that parliamentarians and other decision-makers would remain aware of the issue.

“Moreover, we have to take ownership of the programme in order to give a message to the masses that polio is our issue. On each LCD, constituency-wise performance would be displayed due to which public representatives would be aware that their performance is being watched,” he said.

A sample from sewage from an area is the basic parameter to determine if the polio campaigns there are being conducted successfully or not. A polio case can be reported in any city because of frequent movement of people from one city to another but if the virus is found in the sewage it means that the polio campaign in that area could not achieve its targets.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2019