Syed Nadeem Mashwani

NOWSHERA: The first polio case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2021 has surfaced in Nowshera.

A 31-month-old child in Nowshera has been diagnosed with poliovirus. According to the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), it is the first confirmed polio case of KP and second of Pakistan this year. The affected child belongs to Naway Killi area of Nowshera. The affected child, Asim Khan, resident of Khariri in Matta, Swat, was in the house of his grandfather in Noway Killi in Nowshera on January 01, when his samples were sent for tests. The test results confirmed that the child is infected by poliovirus.

The earlier case of poliovirus in Pakistan this year surfaced from Killa Saifullah district of Balochistan.

In KP, 42 polio cases surfaced in 11 districts in 2020, including four in Nowshera, while in 2019, 16 cases surfaced in nine districts of KP.

While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from the crippling disease. With each vaccination of children below the age of five years, their protection against the virus is increased. No vaccination means more vulnerability to the virus particularly in Pakistan where it is endemic.

Currently, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world which have not fully eradicated polio. 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.

Experts believe that polio vaccination efforts cannot succeed completely until the refusing parents are convinced to cooperate with vaccination teams.

Reports were not available whether the infected child received polio vaccination during campaigns or not. However, in majority of recent polio cases, it was found that their parents did not cooperate with the vaccination teams. Last year’s vaccination campaigns were marred by coronavirus, however, the children who got the vaccination in earlier campaigns showed enough resistance and polio did not spread during the corona situation. The emergence of polio case in Nowshera has created concerns among the parents and health department.

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