PESHAWAR: Six more polio cases have surfaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa۔

The Health Ministry said the new cases, four girls and two boys, have emerged from Lakki Marwat and Torghar districts. As the samples of the affected children were taken in December 2019, therefore, the tally will be counted in the 2019 cases. The overall 2019 toll in the country stands at 141 after emergence of fresh polio cases. This has made 2019 one of the worst years for Pakistan polio eradication efforts.

The main cause behind the emergence of so many polio cases is refusal of parents to cooperate with the vaccination teams. According to media reports citing Health Ministry data, over a million parents refused to cooperate with vaccination teams in 2019. Most of the refusal cases were reported in April last year when rumours spread in Peshawar that many children had fainted after consuming vaccination drops.

A total of 1,089,087 parents refused to give vaccination drops to their children in 2019. In April last year, 694,984 refusal cases were reported.

The emergence of so many polio cases in Pakistan, particularly in KP, has brought the federal and provincial governments under pressure over their performance and strategy to control the spread of disease.

Experts believe that polio vaccination efforts cannot succeed completely until the refusing parents are convinced to cooperate with vaccination teams. They say Ulema can play crucial role in removing misconceptions about vaccination. The EOC Coordinator Abdul Basit says provision of vaccination to each and every child below the age of five years is must to eliminate the disease from the country.

Currently, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world which have not fully eradicated polio. The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has turned 2019 a horrible year for Pakistan polio eradication programme mainly due to politicisation of the programme.

The fresh polio cases have surfaced in KP four days after emergence of six cases in the country, including two in KP i.e. Lakki Marwat and Dera Ismail Khan.