PESHAWAR: In an alarming development, three polio cases have surfaced in Lakki Marwat, Bannu and Torghar districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to the National Emergency Polio Centre (NEPC) the Polio Virology Laboratory has confirmed the fresh polio cases. The victims include 21-month-old girl from Takhtikhel Union Council of Bannu, 49-month-old girl from Sarae Naurang area of Lakki Marwat and a 10-month-old boy from Hernai Union Council in Torghar.

Prime Minister’s focal person on polio eradication Babar bin Atta fears that the polio cases this year in Pakistan may go beyond 50 this year. He says there is no cure for the crippling disease and the only way to prevent it is polio vaccination. He says polio cannot be eradicated completely without the cooperation of parents. He says in all the fresh cases, it has emerged that the parents did not cooperate with the vaccination teams, which exposed their children to the crippling disease.

In an earlier statement, Babar bin Atta had stated that the state of poliovirus outbreak in Bannu Division (North Waziristan, Lakki Marwat and Bannu) is worrisome. He said that the community is not fully cooperating with vaccination staff. The focal person said he has written to the chief minister with in-depth outbreak investigation and recommendation report on how to interrupt and resolve the issues.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where polio is categorised is endemic viral infection. Vaccination efforts in these countries are often hampered due to refusal of parents or threats from militants. The National Emergency Operation Centre has already issued warning of presence of poliovirus in eight cities including Peshawar, Bannu, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Qila Abdullah, Pishin, Quetta and Karachi.

The government has taken several measures including arrest of parents, blocking of computerised national identity cards (CNICs) and suspension of privileges of people who refuse to cooperate with the vaccination teams. Several polio officials not performing their duties have also been sacked recently. Despite all these measures taken by the government, polio cases are still surfacing, which means much more needs to be done to realise the dream of polio-free Pakistan.

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