ISLAMABAD: Pakistani health authorities on Wednesday confirmed fourth poliovirus case in the ongoing year, saying the disease has now paralyzed a 13-month-old boy in North Waziristan.
Young children under the age of five are considered extremely vulnerable to polio, though parents can protect them against its lifelong impact by building their immunity through vaccination.
Polio has been eliminated from the rest of the world, though Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to struggle with it.
“Another child in North Waziristan has been paralyzed by wild poliovirus. This 13-month-old child will live with disabilities for the rest of his life because of a virus that is entirely preventable. This is a collective loss for Pakistan,” said federal health minister Abdul Qadir Patel said in a statement.
“Over 99 percent of the world is now polio-free,” he added. “Our children also deserve a life free from this incurable disease.”
All children who have been infected by wild poliovirus this year belong to North Waziristan, where more cases are expected due to high refusal rates and instances of finger-marking without vaccination during campaign.
The Pakistan Polio Program has conducted emergency campaigns in the area, while children are administered the vaccine at all entry and exit points from southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the rest of the province and across the border to Afghanistan to control the spread of the virus.
“All parents must realize the risk that wild poliovirus continues to pose to children all over Pakistan. Please ensure that your children are vaccinated in the ongoing nationwide campaign being conducted in all 156 districts of the country,” Patel said.
Pakistan reported its first polio case this year on April 22, when a 15-month-old boy from the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan was found infected with the virus.
The case was reported after a gap of more than a year.