PESHAWAR    -   Three more polio cases have been reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa taking the overall count of polio cases this year to 44 in the province and 58 in the country.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad, the fresh polio cases have surfaced in Hangu, Bannu and North Waziristan of the KP province.

It said one wild polio virus has been isolated from the stool sample of 18-month-old girl of Mainij Khel UC Dallan, Tehsil Thal, District Hangu.

Similarly, the laboratory tests have confirmed polio virus in a 30-month-old boy, resident of Dinor, Tehsil Miralai, District North Waziristan, and 18-month-old female from Tehsil Wazir District Bannu. All the children have a history of zero doze for essential immunization and are undernourishment.

In response to the reporting of new polio cases in the province, Coordinator EOC Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Capt (r) Kamran Ahmed Afridi said that the virus is on fire in southern districts of the province especially in Bannu Division and is circulating in environment that can hit any unvaccinated child.

He said that the only viable solution to the problem was to vaccinate every child in every campaign as only repeated doses can protect the child from permanent disability and stop virus circulation in the environment.

Kamran Afridi appealed to parents not to pay attention to propagandas and rumours adding that polio vaccine was completely safe and did not cause any harm upon administration.

ANTI-POLIO CAMPAIGN FROM TODAY

APP adds: The National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) on polio Sunday confirmed five new polio cases in the country, including three from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to an NEOC official, one case each was reported from Bannu, Waziristan and Hangu in KP, and two from Hyderabad, Sindh. He said with the addition of five new cases, the figure of confirmed polio cases in the country stood at 58 for the current year, out of which 44 were from KP, including 32 from Bannu division alone.

Terming the polio virus situation in the KP alarming, the official further said the government had planned to start polio immunization drive in 26 districts of the province from Monday (today).

The NEOC official said the cause behind increasing number of polio cases in Bannu was refusal by the parents there to get their children vaccinated against the disease.

“After confirmation of polio virus in their children, the parents admitted that they had refused to get their children vaccinated because they were under the influence of a misleading propaganda,” he added. The official further said the extensive environmental surveillance by the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme during the last month had found the presence of polio virus in the sewage of 10 cities.

According to the results shared by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), the presence of polio virus was confirmed in the samples of sewage collected from Faisalabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Sukkur, Qilla Abdullah, Quetta, Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar and South Waziristan.

“Considering the associated risks, the country programme has urged the parents to ensure immunization of all children under the age of five during the polio campaigns,” the official said, and added, “We have to collectively ensure that we reach all children with multiple doses of vaccination before this dangerous virus found in the sewage of these towns reach the unprotected children.”

He said the programme was focusing on children who had missed vaccination. “The continuous presence of polio virus in the sewage of major cities poses risks to all vulnerable and unprotected children across Pakistan,” the NEOC official warned.

The official explained that polio was a highly infectious disease caused by the virus mainly affecting children under the age of 10. “It invades the nervous system, and can cause paralysis and even death,” he elaborated.

He added while there was no cure for polio, vaccination was the most effective way to protect children from the crippling disease. “Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, his or her protection against the virus increases,” he informed.

He said repeated immunization programmes had protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio free.