PM Shehbaz expresses concern over resurfacing of polio virus

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday expressed concern over the resurfacing of poliovirus within the country after a period of 15 months.

As a 15-month-old boy from North Waziristan tested positive for type-1 wild poliovirus (WPV1).

The premier summoned a report from the concerned authorities and directed them to formulate a strategy to eradicate the crippling disease from the country.

PM Shehbaz has also called a meeting of the National Task Force for Polio Eradication on Monday.

On Friday, a 15-month-old boy was reported to be paralysed by wild poliovirus, making it the third case of wild polio to be recorded globally in 2022.

The virus was confirmed on April 22, 2022, by the Pakistan National polio laboratory at the NIH, Islamabad, with the onset of paralysis on April 9.

The Pakistan polio laboratory also confirmed the detection of a positive environmental sample collected on April 5 from the Bannu district of the same province. Both the viruses are closely related to each other.

Pakistan had reported one case last year with onset on January 27 in Killa Abdullah, Balochistan.

Read Fighting TTP and mistrust, Pakistan marks one year polio-free

“This is, of course, a tragedy for the child and his family and it is also very unfortunate both for Pakistan and polio eradication efforts all over the world. We are disappointed but not deterred,” Secretary Health Aamir Ashraf said. “The case has appeared in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the poliovirus was detected in the environment late last year and where an emergency action plan is already being implemented.”

The health secretary added, “The National and Provincial Polio Emergency Operations Centres have deployed teams to conduct a full investigation of the recent case, while emergency immunisation campaigns are underway to prevent further spread of the wild poliovirus in Pakistan.”

Pakistan remains one of only two countries in the world with circulating wild poliovirus, together with Afghanistan. Polio is a highly infectious virus and until this last remaining epidemiological bloc wipes out polio, children all over the world remain at risk of life-long paralysis or fatality by the poliovirus.

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