Fifth Polio Case in Pakistan Highlights Eradication Challenges

Pakistan faces a setback in its fight against polio with the confirmation of the fifth case this year. A two-year-old from Balochistan succumbed to the disease, raising concerns over vaccination gaps. An investigation is underway to trace the virus source and improve immunization coverage.

PTI | Islamabad | Updated: 09-06-2024 12:07 IST | Created: 09-06-2024 12:07 IST
Fifth Polio Case in Pakistan Highlights Eradication Challenges
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Pakistan has confirmed its fifth polio case of the year, delivering a significant blow to the national efforts aimed at eradicating the debilitating disease.

The victim, a two-year-old child from Quetta in Balochistan province, tragically succumbed to the illness on May 22, before tests could confirm the presence of the poliovirus, according to the Dawn newspaper.

Diagnosis was unusually delayed, taking six weeks instead of the usual three, reported an official at the Regional Reference Laboratory of the National Institute of Health (NIH). The disease initially paralyzed the child's legs before spreading to his arms, ultimately leading to his death. Despite receiving five supplementary immunization doses, the child had not been administered a single routine polio vaccination dose, raising questions about possible vaccine refusal. The virus was identified as part of the imported YB3A cluster of WPV1.

This incident marks the fourth polio case reported from the Balochistan province and underscores the ongoing threat as poliovirus was also detected in the victim's siblings and cousins.

Prime Minister's coordinator on National Health Services, Dr. Malik Mukhtar Bharat, emphasized the dire message of this case: Pakistan must eradicate polio to ensure the safety of all children. Meanwhile, newly appointed coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, Muhammad Anwarul Haq, announced an investigation to identify the virus's source and address gaps in vaccination coverage. He succeeds Dr. Shahzad Baig, who resigned earlier this month.

Earlier on June 1, Pakistan reported its fourth polio case of the year—the first in Sindh province—affecting a 30-month-old child from Shikarpur's Lakhi region.

The World Health Organisation notes that polio remains endemic in only two countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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