Pakistan reports first polio case of 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reported its first polio 2023 cases after a three-year-old boy from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bannu district became the latest victim of the disease, the country’s health ministry has confirmed, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.
THE case was reported at a time when delegations from the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) are in the country to analyze efforts to eradicate the disease.
The Ministry of Health, in a statement released on Friday, said that the FAD and BMGF delegations had met with the Federal Minister of Health to discuss avenues of cooperation in social protection and health, putting the focus on poliomyelitis eradication.
The head of the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) for Polio, Dr Shahzad Baig, said an investigation was underway to determine if the child had been vaccinated or if the parents had refused the vaccination.
“However, it is clear that the child was not fully protected and that is why he was attacked by the virus,” Dr Baig said, speaking to Dawn.
He said it was the first case in the current year to be reported after a five-month interval. Health authorities have issued an alert following the expected movement from tribal districts to urban areas in Ramazan and Eid. The authorities are now planning a vaccination campaign in the tribal districts from April 10, as currently security personnel are engaged in the digital census.
According to the head of NEOC, there are seven districts in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) including Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Bannu, South Waziristan and North Waziristan where the virus is prevalent. “[These areas] should be vigorously targeted in the vaccination campaign.”
The region was the epicenter of the virus in 2022, with all 20 cases reported in southern KP districts. Among them, 17 were from North Waziristan, two from Lakki Marwat and one from South Waziristan, according to Dawn.
Although a polio campaign was conducted in Sindh, Punjab and Islamabad in March, the campaign could not be launched in KP and Baluchistan as security personnel were busy with census duties.


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