News / Asia

    New Cases of Polio Reported in Pakistan

    Struggle to Eradicate Polio Continues in Pakistani
    Ayesha Tanzeem
    March 07, 2016 9:17 PM
    Pakistan and Afghanistan are two of the very few countries in the world where polio outbreaks occur. Efforts to eradicate the once feared disease from the world now hinge upon them. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports on the efforts, and the setbacks, in Pakistan’s fight against polio.
    Ayesha Tanzeem

    Three new cases of polio were reported in Pakistan last week, bringing the total number of worldwide polio cases this year to five — all of them in Pakistan.

    The country remains front and center in the global fight to eradicate the highly infectious disease from the planet.

    The new cases were reported in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, as well as in Hangu and Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

    The first polio case of the year, reported in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, was a 3-year-old boy who had received at least seven doses of polio vaccine.
    “Unfortunately the child was suffering from malnutrition, and the immunity level had not built up,” said Aziz Memon, the chair of Rotary Polio Plus in Pakistan.

    This points to the larger problems of a weak health system, along with issues of security and internal migration due to conflict in various parts of the country or the ongoing military operation in areas bordering Afghanistan.

    Either polio cases or the presence of the polio virus in the environment, determined through methods like water sample tests, have been reported in all four provinces of Pakistan.

    A girl receives polio vaccine drops at the door step of her family home in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 15, 2016.
    A girl receives polio vaccine drops at the door step of her family home in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 15, 2016.

    Last year, 54 of the 73 cases of polio worldwide were in Pakistan. Without eradication, health officials fear a resurgence of the disease.

    Memon thinks the country will have to redouble its efforts in the wake of the new cases.

    “We have to be very vigilant in the coming five months so that we can stop the transmission,” he said.

    Eradication campaign

    The presence of polio in Pakistan is not due to a lack of effort against it. Pakistan has been trying hard, with the help of the international community, to immunize all its children. Polio vaccination campaigns are regularly carried out in various parts of the country.
    More than 100,000 workers participated in an anti-polio drive last month alone. Workers went door to door, to try to get to every child, especially those who might not have seen a doctor for their regular immunization. 

    These efforts, however, are often hampered by security concerns.

    Islamist militants consider polio workers Western spies, and immunization, a Western conspiracy to sterilize Muslim children. The CIA’s use of a vaccination campaign to try to collect DNA samples from a compound in Abbottabad to ascertain Osama Bin Laden’s presence made polio campaigns even more suspect. Attacks on polio workers increased. They have since gone down but security remains a big issue.

    Pakistani police officers and rescue workers gather at the site of suicide bombing in Quetta, Pakistan, Jan. 13, 2016.
    Pakistani police officers and rescue workers gather at the site of suicide bombing in Quetta, Pakistan, Jan. 13, 2016.

    A suicide blast outside a polio eradication center in Quetta in January killed at least 15 people. In February, gunmen shot and wounded a polio worker in Lahore.

    The government has countered by providing extra security and recruiting Muslim clerics to speak up in favor of polio vaccinations. These clerics sometimes go with the polio workers to persuade hesitant parents to allow their kids to get polio drops. Some of them have used their weekly Friday sermons to advertise support for polio vaccination.

    Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan have long been a place where Taliban militants strongly opposed polio vaccination campaigns. A military operation has weakened the Taliban’s hold on the territory, but major parts of it remain high risk areas for polio, according to End Polio Pakistan.

    Until these gaps are closed, Pakistan and the world will not be polio free.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora