PESHAWAR: In an alarming development, five more polio cases have been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a single day, which has set alarm bells ringing for the government.
Media reports said the fresh cases have surfaced from Bannu and Torghar districts of KP. Three cases have been reported from Bannu and two from Torghar. With the emergence of new cases, the number of polio cases in Pakistan this year has reached 37, including 31 in KP and three each from Punjab and Sindh.
It is second time that five polio cases have been reported from KP in a single day. On June 28, five polio cases were reported from KP. The National Institute of Health (NIH) had confirmed that two cases each were reported from Bannu and Torghar and one case was reported from North Waziristan tribal district.
Focal person to prime minister for polio eradication Babar Bin Atta has expressed serious concern over emergence of fresh polio cases and appealed the nation to ensure that every child gets polio vaccination. He said the government will leave no stone unturned to control the spread of the disease.
Babar bin Atta said that a fake drama was created against polio vaccination in Peshawar which has fuelled parental refusals in far off areas of the country. He said the drama in Peshawar caused massive damage to the cause of polio vaccination.
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.