Pakistan reports new polio case in Balochistan, its third in 2024
The case was recorded in the Killa Abdullah district of Balochistan

at 1:54 am
POK and Kashmir News
File pic of child receiving oral polio vaccine. Courtesy UNICEF

Islamabad, May 25:  In very worrying news for Pakistan, the country has reported its third case of polio in 2024, in the Balochistan province even as its neighbouring countries eradicated polio long ago. In the Indian subcontinent and the world, Pakistan is the only country alongside Afghanistan where polio is still considered endemic.

The case which was recorded in the Killa Abdullah district of the province wild was a polio virus type 1 (WPV1), and found in stool samples collected from a child in Darozai union council of Killa Abdullah, who developed symptoms of paralysis on April 20, as per the findings of Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio in Pakistan’s National Institute of Health.

This is the third polio case in 2024 as Pakistan had earlier reported two cases and all of the three cases reported this year are from Balochistan.

The second case of the crippling disease was reported in Chaman’s Mir Ali Zai area where a four-year-old boy was confirmed with the disease.

Earlier on March 14, a spokesman for the National Ministry for Health confirmed the first case of 2024 in Pakistan when a two-and-a-half-year-old child from Dera Bugti was confirmed with the poliovirus.

In response to the latest case, the country’s medical bodies have initiated genetic sequencing of the isolated virus while the government is initiating emergency operations in collaboration with health partners, as part of a comprehensive vaccination drive to ensure every child under the age of five receives two drops of polio vaccine.

The objective of the campaign is to vaccinate around 889,656 children in Chaman, Dera Bugti, Hub, Lasbela, Nasirabad, Sibi, Jaffarabad, Kech, Khuzdar, Usta Muhammad, and Sobhatpur. Around 3,378 teams, including 2,641 mobile teams, 306 fixed-site teams and 228 teams at transit points, will be deployed to ensure maximum coverage.

“It is incredibly tragic that another child has been affected by polio this year in Balochistan,” said Coordinator to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Malik Mukhtar Ahmed Bharath.

“The government is bringing the polio vaccine to the citizens’ doorsteps in multiple polio vaccination rounds. I urge families to understand the risk this disease poses to children and make sure that they vaccinate all their children under the age of five when the polio worker shows up to their homes,” he added.

Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication said that a detailed case investigation will be launched immediately to identify the origins of the virus, find populations that may have missed vaccination and take corrective measures to contain its spread.

“We have already conducted four polio vaccination campaigns this year, including two nationwide campaigns to boost children’s immunity and we will be conducting another campaign in June,” he added.

The bulk of its polio cases have been reported from Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, or the regions of Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh, due to massive concentrations of population amidst a structurally weak and obsolete health system.