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The recent identification of wild poliovirus in environmental samples from various districts in Pakistan serves as a stark reminder that the fight against this debilitating disease is ongoing.
Reports from the Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio Eradication at the National Institute of Health reveal that, in January alone, 28 environmental samples from 19 districts tested positive for wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1). This alarming revelation, coupled with the presence of the imported virus cluster, YB3A, raises serious concerns about the persistent threat of polio in the country.
Eradicating polio in Pakistan remains a significant challenge, as emphasized by Federal Minister for Health Dr. Nadeem Jan. The imported virus cluster, identified in 120 out of 126 positive sewage samples and three human cases in the previous year, continues to pose a substantial threat. Despite extensive mass vaccination campaigns and innovative strategies implemented in 2023, the virus persists, necessitating sustained and intensified efforts.
While expressing Pakistan’s commitment to eradicating the virus, Federal Secretary for Health Iftikhar Ali Shallwani underscores the country’s goal to interrupt polio transmission by the end of the current year. However, the recent detections emphasize the need for a renewed and unwavering focus on vaccination efforts. Addressing the imported virus cluster requires a comprehensive and nationwide approach to ensure the protection of all children.
In light of this challenge, there is a need to prioritize innovative strategies and continue nationwide vaccination campaigns. Dr. Shahzad Baig, Coordinator for the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, highlighted the numerous vaccination campaigns conducted last year to enhance children’s immunity.
The recently concluded nationwide campaign from January 8 to 14, with plans for several more in all districts of detection, demonstrates the collective determination to protect children from this paralytic disease.