Pakistan reports 4th case of polio; polio eradication program gets new head
This is the first case to be reported from Sindh, while the previous three victims hail from Balochistan.

at 12:40 am
POK and Kashmir News
File pic of child receiving oral polio vaccine. Courtesy UNICEF

Islamabad, June 2:  The number of poliovirus cases in Pakistan this year has increased to four after a toddler was found infected with the crippling disease, even as the government appointed a new head of the Polio Eradication Program.

The detection of the latest case signifies the immensity of the challenge that lies ahead of the country’s polio eradication programme.

According to Dawn, the latest victim is a 30-month-old child hailing from Bhirkan Union Council in Lakhi tehsil, Shikarpur.

This is the first case to be reported from Sindh, as the previous three victims hail from Balochistan.

According to the National Institute of Health in Islamabad, the newest case is also of the Type-1 Wild Poliovirus (WPV1), just like the previous three cases.

The child was taken to a hospital after he suddenly developed weakness in both lower limbs and could not hold his neck up.

The family claimed that the child has been administered with several Oral Polio Vaccines during previous immunisation campaigns, but authorities are verifying the claim.

The PM’s coordinator on National Health Services Dr Malik Mukhtar Bharat said a team has been deployed to conduct a full case investigation.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Health Services has appointed Muhammad Anwarul Haq, the ministry’s joint secretary, as the coordinator of the National Emergency Operation Center for Polio Eradication.

He will replace Dr Shahzad Baig, who resigned on Friday, citing personal reasons.

Meanwhile, a new campaign to vaccinate over 16.5 million children under the age of five in 66 districts will be launched on Monday.

The drive, planned ahead of the peak travel season of Eidul Azha, will fully cover 36 districts and partially cover 30 districts.

These areas include Islamabad, 20 districts of Balochistan, 23 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 16 of Sindh and six of Punjab.

This will be the fifth polio vaccination campaign of this year.

Dr Shahzad Baig was asked to “quit” on Friday as he failed to contain the spread of polio virus being the head of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Program.

Shahzad Baig was appointed as the head of the anti-polio program during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government’s tenure and the incumbent government of Shehbaz Sharif was “not happy” with his performance.

His resignation came as Pakistan reported three cases of poliovirus in 2024 so far, while 153 sewage samples also tested positive for the poliovirus.

Poliomyelitis has been eradicated in all countries except Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On Thursday, the National Polio Testing Laboratory released a report on sewage samples from five districts, confirming the presence of poliovirus.

The virus was found in sewage samples from Karachi, Quetta and Kohat. This year, 153 out of 39 districts’ sewage samples have tested positive for poliovirus.

The sampling for polio testing was conducted from May 9 to 15 in five districts. Karachi East’s Rashid Minhas Road and Machhar Colony sewage samples tested positive for poliovirus, sources said.

The third polio case of 2024 reported in Pakistan was of a minor girl from Kila Abdullah who was diagnosed with the virus.

The girl, from Balochistan’s Kila Abdullah, showed symptoms of paralysis on April 20. The health ministry said that genetic testing of the affected girl’s samples is still underway.