LAHORE - The National Institute of Health in Islamabad has confirmed presence of polio virus in two female children from Dera Ghazi Khan.

On seeing symptoms, stool samples of both the kids living under poor socio-economic conditions were collected in December 2019 and the same were sent to the NIH. The Lab confirmed presence of crippling virus in both the ill fated kids on Thursday, taking the cases in 2019 to 134.

Like most of the cases in the past, both the kids received multiple doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV), but failed to develop immunity against the virus. Both the kids, however, were not given inactivated polio virus (IPV) injections.

Six month old female child from Aali Wala, Tehsil and District DG Khan received four OPV doses. Two doses were verified by the card but parents claimed that another two were giving during special campaigns. The virus paralysed lower left limb of the ill fated girl.

12 month old girl child from Sakhi Sarwar, Tehsil and District DG Khan received five OPV doses. Polio paralysed both lower limbs of the child. 

The fresh cases have again raised the question that whether improved vaccination coverage and multiple campaigns would be enough to achieve the goal of making Pakistan polio-free.

Experts say the vaccine provides much-needed shield, but it is not a guarantee to protect children until and unless other preconditions are fulfilled. They say first four doses in routine immunisation are vital and these cannot be covered through multiple doses at a later stage.

“Malnutrition and co-morbidities like diarrhoea, dysentery and fever are major reasons behind children getting polio even after receiving multiple doses of vaccine. These children with weak immunity fail to produce antibodies (shield against polio) from the vaccine.

As such they are not immune and can get polio if attacked by the virus”, said Dr Abdul Rauf, a family physician running clinic in congested locality of Northern Lahore, Farooq Gunj. He stressed the need of carrying extensive research to find out why children get polio even after multiple doses of OPV.

“Until proper research, there is a need of maintaining cold chain, improving diet and monitoring condition of children before and after administering polio vaccine. Vaccine is useless if administered to a child with bad stomach or if he/she vomits after getting the dose. Proper training of vaccinators is a key to achievement of desired results from vaccination,” he said.

Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar has sought a report from the health department about reports of new polio cases from DG Khan. He said that it was serious issue and any negligence in the anti-polio campaign would not be tolerated. “It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the future of the country and coordinated efforts should be made to improve the situation. It is our mission to make Pakistan polio-free and line departments will have to work with more zeal to save the children from polio,” he said.