Six new polio virus cases have emerged from different parts of Pakistan, increasing the overall tally for 2019 to 134.
According to statistics shared by the Regional Reference Laboratory (RRL) for polio eradication, two cases have emerged from Dera Ghazi Khan and one each from Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Jamshoro and Kambar.
The two cases found in Dera Ghazi Khan include female infants – aged six months and 12 months. In Dera Ismail Khan, the virus was detected in a two-year-old boy; in Lakki Marwat, a nine-month-old female tested positive. In Kambar, a three-year-old boy, while in Jamshoro a 12-year-old boy was infected.
These cases fall in last year’s tally based on the date of detection of the virus in the children.
Pakistan is one of only three countries where the crippling virus is endemic. The other two countries are Nigeria and Afghanistan.
The government has repeatedly said that polio eradication is one of its top priorities. On January 7, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said that government will place more focus on 40 super high-risk polio-endemic union councils and is currently planning an integrated package of anti-polio services to them.
“Out of the 40 high-risk union councils, 18 are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 14 in Balochistan and eight in Karachi,” Dr Mirza had pointed out.
Last year, the government formed the National Strategic Advisory Group (NSAG) to tackle polio eradication. The NSGA has representatives from leading political parties who have worked on polio eradication programmes in previous governments. The broad-based body was constituted in consultation with Prime Minister Imran Khan and is led by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza.