Acute peak in polio cases in Pakistan to 41 in 6 months

ISLAMABAD: More than a year later. Pakistan After a polio campaign was suspended following the murder of a health worker and two policemen, 41 polio cases have been reported in the entire country in the last six months alone.

This year's figure is in stark contrast to the 12 cases reported last year and only 8 in 2017.

Of the 41, the maximum number of affected children (33) is from the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), including the newly merged tribal districts bordering Afghanistan . Punjab and Sindh have reported three cases each, and Balochistan two.

Pakistan is one of the three countries in the world where polio is categorized as an endemic viral infection. Yet, parents – largely threatened by militants and influenced by clerics who suspect the vaccination drive to be a Western conspiracy to harm or sterilise Muslim children – refuse to inoculate their children.

Four new cases of polio were reported on Monday. According to the government authorities, two cases were detected in the district of KP, while two were registered in the province of Balochistan, a restless southwest.

In Bannu, it was confirmed in a 12-month-old girl and a 30-month-old child. With the latest cases, the number of children detected with poliovirus in Bannu this year has increased to 16.

In Balochistan, officials associated with the polio eradication program said that an eight-month-old boy was a victim of the crippling disease in Chaman. Health officials in Chaman described the parents' refusal to inoculate their children as the underlying reason behind the new case.

Another case of poliomyelitis was confirmed in a nine-month-old baby in Jaffarabad, prompting authorities in Balochistan to declare an emergency.