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    Polio vaccination-a best option to protect children from permanent disability

    Polio vaccination-a best option to protect children from permanent disability

    PESHAWAR (APP): Like other provinces of Pakistan, the anti polio vaccination campaign was started in Khyber Pakthunkhwa on Monday where children under five years of age was being vaccinated with the help of lady health workers, immunization teams and officials of the health department.

    In the door to door campaign at villages, towns and cities, the vaccinators were seen administrating vaccine to children both girls and boys under five years of age. Approximately, 44 million children would be vaccinated during the national campaign including in Khyber Pakthunkhwa where vitamin A deficiency dose would also be provided to the weaker children to boost their immunity level.   

    Professor Dr Riaz Khan, head of children ward Govt Hospital Pabbi Nowshera said that polio was an incurable disease after its virus attack and vaccination was the best available option to save children from permanent disability.

    “Every year, the vaccines prevent nearly two to three million deaths and saved an additional two million children due to improvement of the global coverage. The oral polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) are weakening and killing poliovirus as the former saved over five million children from permanent paralysis,” he told APP on Monday.

    He said WPV-I was still circulating and hitting the unvaccinated children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, adding WPV-II and III types had been eradicated in 1999, and that the last case of type-III was reported in 2012.

    Following a report of 350,000 polio cases from 125 endemic countries in 1998, he said the World Health Assembly met and expressed strong resolve to eradicate polio from the globe and today the entire world except Pakistan and Afghanistan were declared polio-free.

    Polio victim Abid Jamsheed (31), whose wheelchair was being pushed by his father on regular basis to help him in reaching a playground near his home to watch children playing different games and get amused, has appealed parents and guardians to vaccinate their children and in case the mobile teams did not come to their homes bring their loved ones to nearest hospital for vaccination to protect them from permanent disabilities.

    ‘Polio took away my dreams to become a star footballer. Whenever football comes close to my wheelchair, I unintentionally try to kick it and sometimes fell in this effort. I thanked my father, who supported me to settle down again in my wheelchair,” said Abid, a resident of village Dheri Mian Ishaq Nowshera district while tears rolling down over his cheeks.

    Saddened for his son, Abid’s father Jamsheed Khan said that he feels so sorry for his 31-year-old son because he could not play like a normal child and always looks for others’ support. “Polio virus affected my younger son at the age of three-year, when he took him to the doctor due to high fever, vomiting and constant pain where he was diagnosed with polio, ” he recalled.

    “The doctor said Abid could not walk for entire life as both of his legs were affected by polio virus,” the sadden father said, adding he had been practicing to bring his son to the playground for the last 27 years on his request by leaving work in fields ahead of time.

    Like Abid, the polio virus continued attacking the under five years old children in the country where around 20 kids were paralyzed last year for their entire life. According to officials of KP Health Department, all these 20 positive cases were detected in KP’s southern districts including 17 in North Waziristan, two in Lakki Marwat and one in South Waziristan.

    In Pakistan, a total of 139 cases were reported during 2011 including 23 from KP, 33 from Sindh, 73 from Balochistan, one in Giligt Baltistan (GB) and nine in Punjab. In 2012, polio cases were slashed to 38 including 27 in KP, four each in Sindh and Balochistan, one from GB, and two from Islamabad. Further reduction in cases had been witnessed during 2013 with 28 cases in Pakistan including 11 from KP, 10 from Sindh and seven from Punjab.

    A sharp increase in polio cases had been witnessed in 2014 after deduction of 127 cases including 68 from KP, 30 from Sindh, 22 from Balochistan and seven from Punjab. In 2015, a total of 38 cases were detected in the country including 17 in KP, 12 in Sindh, seven in Balochistan and only two from Punjab.

    As many as 18 cases reported including eight each from KP and Sindh and two from Balochsitan in 2016 and one case was detected in KP, two in Sindh, three in Balochistan and one each from GB and Punjab during 2017. Likewise, two cases detected in KP, one in Sindh and three in Balochistan during 2018.

    However, significant increase in polio cases were witnessed in the country with a record 134 cases including 80 in KP, 30 in Sindh, 12 each in Balochistan and Punjab during 2019. As many as 82 cases reported in Pakistan including 20 in KP, 22 in Sindh, 26 in Balochistan and 14 in Punjab in 2020.

    Once in the spotlight in the world for being a country of polio virus reservoir following reports of about 20,000 cases per year in early 1990, there was a great hope that Pakistan was going to be declared a polio free country after a report of one case from Balochistan on January 27, 2021.

    However, the report of 20 cases last year from KP had showed that wild polio virus (WPV-I) was still circulating in Lakki Marwat and Waziristan districts and its eradication was imperative to save children from permanent disabilities.

    Dr Riaz said polio was a highly contagious disease that mostly invades the nervous system of malnutrition children and spreads through feco-oral route. He said over 100 million children were immunized every year before their first birthday and about 24 million under one-year age i.e. 20 percent were deprived of vaccines due to various reasons including refusal by parents, misconception and high rate of illiteracy.

    An inclusive mechanism was put in place for monitoring of vaccinators through incharges at union, tehsil and district councils besides provincial and national levels. The jirga comprising notables, religious scholars, doctors, EPI officials and district administration are being arranged from time to time to remove misconception regarding polio vaccination and counter refusal.

    He said eradication of WPV-I was still a big challenge due to the situation in Afghanistan and efforts were underway to stop transmission of WPV-I in the pandemic region.

    Dr Riaz said cooperation of religious scholars, media, politicians, LG representatives and tribal elders were imperative to make Pakistan polio free.


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