LAHORE - President of the federation of Islamic Medical Associations Dr Tanveerul Hasan Zubairi has said that the military operation Zarb-e-Azb has otherwise created a corridor of opportunity to battle against polio.

During a press conference at the Lahore Press Club (LPC) on Thursday, Dr Zubairi said that 500, 000 children and adults had been vaccinated at the entry points in the restive areas of North Waziristan. “Whereas a national campaign has been launched in the settled areas for the final round of Polio vaccination,” he added.

“Today, cases of polio are down more than 99 per cent worldwide. Unfortunately the disease is still prevalent in Pakistan and is rather spreading to an alarming proportion, where 209 cases have been reported in 2014, beating the last ten years record,” Dr Zubairi further said. He informed that 95pc of the Pakistani territory was already clear of disease and the leftover reservoirs were in Fata (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Gaddap, area of Karachi.

“Recently the virus has been detected in Lahore, Chakwal, Ghakkar and few other areas of the country, which is a sign of imminent threat of wide scale anticipated spread of this deadly disease, he maintained.

He said that due to the exodus of more than one million IDPs from the troubled areas of North Waziristan, there was a strong apprehension that the disease would spread to the areas where these IDPs would be lodging subsequently. “Most of them are presently taking a refuge in bordering districts of Bannu, Kohat and DI Khan and some have fled to bordering porous belt to Afghanistan. Whereas another limited number has disappeared in the other cities of the country,” he added.

Pakistan is the only country left in the world where the incidence of Polio is seeing a rise. It is even exporting the disease to other countries, whereas Nigeria and Afghanistan - two of the three countries that have never stopped transmission of polio - have reported only six and twelve cases respectively as of October 2014. Iraq and Syria have also successfully curbed polio outbreaks even in the midst of conflicts.