It has recently reported that a strict polio vaccination campaign will be undertaken in the twin cities of Pakistan, Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Certain high risk areas have been identified after results tested positive for polio through collected environmental samples.
Further, both the polio cases from this year have been reported from what were thought to be low risk areas so the government has decided to launch two nationwide campaigns before the end of May to prevent polio cases from spreading.
Poliovirus also affects children who have been struck with malnutrition such as in the Thar, Umerkot, and Sanghar regions because malnutrition is one of the main reasons for low immunity against this virus.
The environmental sample that tested positive for polio was found in a sample of sewerage from the area. These results are a basic requirement to see whether or not polio vaccination campaigns were successful.
Any city can report a polio case because of the frequent inter-city movement that occurs on a daily basis. However, if a poliovirus is found in sewerage then it means that the campaign has not been successful. Moreover, a positive environmental sample also shows if the immunity level in children of the area has fallen, thus gauging their vulnerability to the disease.
What’s worse is that two polio cases have been reported this year – one in Diamir in Gilgit Baltistan and the other from Lodhran in Punjab. This is aside from the environmental samples from Sabzi Mandi in Islamabad and Dhok Dalal and Safdarabad that tested positive.
The poliovirus found in Diamir is high risk also due to the fact that many people move from Diamir to other parts in the country daily and could be carriers of the disease. Thus it is important that the vaccination campaign also be launched in Diamir.
Dr. Rana Safdar, Head of the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC), also said that because Karachi and Quetta have reported polioviruses this year, the vaccination campaigns will be held during the low transmission period in May.