Polio virus in Lahore – alarming and unacceptable

This is alarming – the existence of polio virus is simply unacceptable in this day and age, when effective vaccines are available and used worldwide. And, the fundamentalists are opposed to polio campaigns in the north of the country. What a country Pakistan is turning into..!

By ASIF CHAUDHRY (Nation)

LAHORE – Perhaps for the first time, a polio case has been detected in the provincial capital as a 15-month-old baby girl belonging to Babu Sabu, Iqbal Town area was confirmed positive in the clinical reports of Islamabad Polio Detection Laboratory.
The stool sample of the baby was sent by the Services Hospital, Lahore management after the doctors diagnosed some polio symptoms during the hospital investigations.
The infant patient Farah suffering from polio, was daughter of a gypsy colony resident Amir Raheem who was living alongside an open drain in poor living conditions.
A reliable source in the Directorate of General Health told The Nation that the incident of polio case took place in the City due to the provision of substandard vaccination which is evident from the fact that the victim baby who was found with polio virus had been vaccinated five times by the teams of polio during their visit to the area.
The source further said that the polio immunisation indicators were being reported very low in the provincial capital during last two years and the health authorities made not attention towards the seriousness of the issue when matter was discussed in several meetings in this regard. It was also brought in the knowledge of the participants of the meetings that the coverage and percentage of the polio eradication campaign was not satisfactory but despite all this no action was taken so far which resulted in the detection of a polio case in the City.
When contacted the Additional Director Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI) Azhar Masood Bhatti confirmed that the victim baby had been vaccinated five times by the special teams of Health Department.
He, however, denied the reports about the provision of substandard polio vaccination claiming that the polio patient was found in provincial capital after influx of Afghan nationals to different areas of the Punjab province from NWFP and other tribal areas due to war against terrorism.
He said that majority of the people of NWFP and tribal areas dislike polio vaccination campaign and mostly were carrying polio virus.
There is strong possibility that the family of the victim baby belong to the NWFP or tribal areas and came to live in the provincial capital after war against terrorism.
To a question, he said that the reports of the baby revealed that it was not a poliovirus genotype. It was a poliovirus, which has its origin in mostly NWFP and tribal areas, the Additional Director EPI said.
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