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Three-year-old paralysed by polio in Bannu

ISLAMABAD: A distressing incident has occurred in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where a three-year-old boy has been paralysed by wild poliovirus.

The child’s paralysis began on July 11 and the case was officially confirmed by the Pakistan National Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad on Tuesday, August 1. This marks the second polio case reported by Bannu.

Expressing concern over the situation, Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said: “Another child in Bannu has been paralysed by wild poliovirus. This three-year-old child will have to live with disabilities for the rest of his life due to a virus that is entirely preventable, which is truly tragic.”

He said that Pakistan has made a significant progress in combating polio, especially after the outbreak in North Waziristan last April. However, even one affected child is too many, and every child deserves a life free from this incurable disease.

Wild polio transmission remains endemic in seven districts of southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: North Waziristan, South Waziristan Upper, South Waziristan Lower, DI Khan, Bannu, Tank and Lakki Marwat.

In other parts of Pakistan, no child has been paralysed by polio since 2021, despite periodic detection of the virus in sewage samples.

Federal Health Secretary Iftikhar Shallwani stressed that parents need to realise that refusing vaccination exposes their children to lifelong disabilities, and the consequences of vaccine refusal are substantial.

Dr. Shahzad Baig, the Coordinator for the National Emergency Operations Centre, announced that a vaccination campaign will begin in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa next week and urged parents to ensure their children receive the vaccination.

Despite facing challenges, Dr. Baig affirmed their commitment to the mission of interrupting wild polio transmission. In 2022, 20 children were affected by polio, with 17 cases reported in North Waziristan, two in Lakki Marwat and one in South Waziristan.

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