PESHAWAR, Dec 27: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday recorded a new polio case amid the World Health Organisation’s concerns about poor vaccination campaigns and the missing of immunisation targets.
An official of National Institute of Health in Islamabad told Dawn that poliovirus was found in eight-month-old Ammar Umar, a resident of Yakatoot II union council in Peshawar.
He said the child received two doses of oral polio vaccine.
The new case, the 26th in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, brings this year’s countrywide polio count to 57.
Until now this year, 20 fresh polio cases have been reported in Federally Administered Tribal Areas, four each in Sindh and Balochistan, two in Punjab and one in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Peshawar, which missed targets in 10 per cent of its UCs against the 95 per cent set in the National Polio Eradication Programme, 2012 in five rounds, leads with six cases recorded by infected districts in the country.
WHO senior coordinator for polio eradication in Pakistan Dr Elias Durry told Dawn that the new polio case from Peshawar highlighted the fragility of the achievements by the country’s polio programme during the current year.
“We must reach all children and give them oral polio vaccine to safeguard them against poliomyelitis. It is very important to ensure that each and every child is immunised during every polio campaign,” he said.
Officials associated with the vaccination campaign in the province said the number of cases had reduced to 57, while the number of infected districts and tribal agencies had come down to 28 in 2012 from 58 last year.
They said the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, which was responsible for vaccination, missed around 80,000 of the 5.2 million children in every campaign.
The officials said the unvaccinated children, around 16,000 immunisation refusal cases, remained in certain areas risking the health of immunised children.
They said the most daunting task of EPI was to vaccinate the children who recently missed on immunisation due to the killing of health workers in the province.
According to them, the assassination of workers in coordinated campaign is the first armed violence against immunisation teams.
The officials said after Taliban banned polio vaccination in Waziristan a few months ago, it was the first manifestation of violence, which had scared away low-paid health workers engaged for immunisation.
“We have to vaccinate 2.39 million children, who remained unvaccinated due to the suspension of the campaign last week over the killing of polio workers,” an official said, adding that the violence could adversely affect the campaign slated to begin early next month.
The officials said the health department would continue with the planned immunisation programme in high-risk areas focusing on vaccination of persistently missed children.