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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Government sounds alarm after two new cases of Polio emerge in Punjab

The government has sounded alarms as two new Polio cases have been confirmed in Punjab. Pakistan and Afghanistan remains the last countries with wild Polio.

Two new polio cases were reported in Punjab Tuesday. Eight children have been affected by the virus in the province so far this year.

The new cases were of an eight-month-old boy in Dera Ghazi Khan and a 13-month-old in Bahawalpur.

Children were missed during immunisation campaign

It is suspected that these children were missed during previous immunisation campaigns. The Punjab health department has announced strict action against any polio vaccinator found guilty of negligence.

The Primary and Secondary Healthcare department said if a case emerges from a district in the future, polio teams of that area will be penalised. Those leading the campaigns in DG Khan, Hafizabad and Chiniot have been given a final warning by the health department.

The secretary also added that parents of 16,000 children had refused the polio vaccine.

Read more: Pakistan and Afghanistan: last battlegrounds of Polio eradication

Pakistan has now reported a total of 67 wild polio cases this year. The highest number of cases have been reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which has recorded 22 cases, while Sindh reported 21 cases, Balochistan 16 and AJK, GB and Islamabad zero.

The Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has warned that if the situation isn’t controlled, Pakistan might be the last remaining country with polio in the world.

Pakistan one of two countries where polio has not been eradicated

Pakistan is one of the two remaining countries in the world where polio is still categorized as an endemic viral infection, the other one being Afghanistan. As of 17 August 2020, there have been 65 documented cases in Pakistan in 2020, and 147 documented cases in Pakistan in 2019. The total count of wild poliovirus cases in Pakistan in 2018 was 12.

Though the polio immunization campaign in the country started in 1974, the efforts for eradication officially started in 1994. The infection remains endemic despite over 100 rounds of vaccination being carried out in the past decade. Pakistan had the world’s highest number of polio cases in 2014.

Polio has had drastic effects on the health of the population of Pakistan and on the nation’s healthcare infrastructure and economy. The WHO estimates that 65–75% of polio cases in developing countries occur in children under 3 years of age, with 95% of all cases occurring in children under 5 years of age.

Disruptive nature of Polio

 Researchers at the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University quantified the disease burden of various diseases in Pakistan; in the year 1990, a Pakistani person with polio averaged a loss of 1.13 healthy life years to the disease. The duration of disability of polio, averaged over 1000 people, was 81.84 years, the equivalent of diseases including diphtheria, childhood meningitis, and measles.

There has been limited research into the impacts of polio in Pakistan in recent years, but a 1988 health survey found that the most common handicaps among polio sufferers were associated with mobility, occupation, and social integration.

The survey found differences in participants based on whether they lived in a village or a slum area: there was a higher rate of handicap in the village population, and higher frequencies of infectious, respiratory, and digestive diseases in the slum area.

Both areas saw polio victims suffer from a higher incidence of musculoskeletal system diseases, as well as infections of the ear, and respiratory tract. Given 1–2 years with occupational therapists, 80% of patients with handicaps showed improvement in function.

GVS News Desk