Pakistan

Balochistan's first polio case of 2016 reported from Quetta

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Syed Ali Shah

QUETTA: Balochistan's first and Pakistan's third polio case of the year 2016 was reported in Quetta on Monday.

Mohammad Ikram, a 30-month old toddler from Quetta city was diagnosed with the virus, sources in the Polio Emergency Cell told DawnNews.

Dr Syed Saif ur Rehman, Chief of Polio Emergency Cell, stated to DawnNews that the recurring polio cases were the result of parents refusing polio drops for their children.

“There has been a 90 per cent decline in refusals in Balochistan,” said Rehman.

He added that during the recent polio campaign launched in the country’s largest province, 1.5 million children were administered polio drops in 15 districts of the province.

According to a recently released report of Pakistan Demographic Health Survey, there have been 2,821 refusal cases during the polio campaign launched in Balochistan last month.

This is the third case reported in 2016 from Pakistan, with the first case confirmed on February 6 in Karachi where a 34-month old Pakhtun child was positively diagnosed with the crippling virus.

The second case was confirmed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province's Nowshehra district in a 19- month old child, Abdullah Jehad Khan.

Polio which can cause life-long paralysis can be prevented with a simple vaccination.

With Nigeria being declared polio-free in September last year, Pakistan and its war-battered neighbour Afghanistan remain the only two countries where the disease is prevalent.

Polio vaccination has always remained a challenge for health officials in the country for they have to convince parents, who are sometimes reluctant because of their conservative views.

Pakistan remains one of only two countries on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) list of polio-endemic countries.

Polio workers have long been targeted in the country due to rumours that the polio immunisation drive is a front for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilise Muslims. The rumours have made inhabitants of lesser-developed parts of the country more wary of allowing immunisation.

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