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Karachi

December 6, 2017

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Infant becomes year’s second polio victim in city

An infant has fallen prey to the dreaded polio virus in Gadap Town and become the year’s second victim of the crippling disease in the city.


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Officials of Sindh’s emergency operation centre for polio eradication (EOC) have confirmed the case of five-month-old Zaibullah Ghulam Sakhi, from Gadap’s UC-4, both of whose legs have been affected. The child’s family hails from Afghanistan.


“It’s highly unfortunate that this child is affected by polio,” said EOC Sindh Coordinator Fayaz Jatoi. “The health teams had administered him oral polio vaccine, but he had had no routine immunisation and was also low on immunity.”


Given the presence and circulation of the polio virus in the city, Jatoi urges parents to ensure that their children are administered polio drops during every inoculation campaign until they reach the age of five and also ensure that they have routine immunisation.


Pakistan’s dream to get the polio-free status was shattered on August 31, when a child in Karachi’s Madina Colony in Gulshan-e-Iqbal tested positive for the virus. Seven-month-old Qasim Ghani, whose family also hails from Afghanistan but has been residing in Pakistan for years, became the first polio case of Karachi since January 2016.


Karachi Health Director Dr Muhammad Taufiq had told The News that it was a case of refusal. “The child’s grandfather repeatedly refused to get his son’s children be administered oral polio vaccine.” Jatoi has warned that the polio virus is present in the environment. “It will look for children with low immunity. This is why I urge parents to get their children vaccinated in every campaign.


“If children are not vaccinated or are low on immunity, it will attack them. We must reach every child, and the parents who refuse the vaccine must stop and think, as they are not only endangering the lives of their own children but also others in the community.”


The EOC has been able to contain the polio outbreak through applying innovative strategies such as hiring educated local female health workers. These strategies have been acclaimed by the international community and brought Pakistan to the brink of polio eradication.


Jatoi says their progress has been watched by everyone with the help of the media. “We are sure they remember where we have come from. We appeal that the media raise awareness so parents may understand they must get their children vaccinated on multiple occasions until polio is completely eradicated.


“We have repeatedly warned that despite all our progress, we have still not reached the finishing line. Our health workers must double their efforts, and we must reach every child.” Karachi has a target population of approximately 2.4 million children who are under five years old, and to protect them from polio, they must receive this important vaccine on multiple occasions.


With the emergence of Karachi’s, as well as Sindh’s, second polio case, the country’s toll of the year’s cases of the crippling disease has reached six. However, the country is still faring quite well in comparison with the previous years. Last year the country had reported 20 polio cases, eight of them in Sindh. And the year before that, the country had had 54 victims of the disease, 12 of whom belonged to Sindh.

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