The Health Minister vows to eradicate poliovirus from the country and urges parents to ensure their children are fully vaccinated.
Islamabad, September 25, 2023 – Traces of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) have been found in wastewater samples collected in Hangu and Karachi districts.
According to the Pakistan Polio Laboratory of the National Institute of Health, one wastewater sample collected in Karachi Keamari on September 5 and two samples collected in Hangu on September 6 tested positive for WPV1.
The laboratory, which is also the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory, stated that the virus isolated from the three wastewater samples is genetically related to the YB3A group circulating in neighboring Afghanistan.
Federal Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan has promised to eradicate poliovirus from the country. He said: “Viruses move with people and can infect vulnerable children anywhere. In October we will launch a national polio vaccination campaign to build immunity in children. Parents should ensure that their children under five years of age are immunized in this campaign and that their routine vaccines are up to date.”
The minister further said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are an epidemiological bloc with historical links and widespread population movements, and both countries are united in their fight against this disabling virus.
Federal Health Secretary Iftikhar Shallwani said the Polio Program has prepared efficient responses to all detections so far and is well prepared to tackle the virus in any part of the country.
“Community ownership and commitment have been critical to eradication in all countries that have eliminated this disease,” he said. “As a nation, we remain united in the cause of a polio-free Pakistan so that our children have the opportunity to live a disease-free life.”
Starting October 2, a national anti-polio campaign will begin to vaccinate more than 40 million children under five years of age against polio. All children in Hangu and Karachi will be vaccinated during this campaign.
Pakistan has so far reported two cases of polio this year and 27 positive environmental samples.
Note to the editor:
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus that primarily affects children under five years of age. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Every time a child under five years old is vaccinated, their protection against the virus increases. Repeated immunizations have protected millions of children from polio, making almost every country in the world polio-free, apart from the two endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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