Polio has struck again in the most populated province of Pakistan again. According to the latest WHO report, a total of 11 cases have surfaced in Pakistan in the year 2019 until now. Three of these cases came from Lahore, Punjab.
An unsettling wave of distress spread through the whole country when a new case of a 10 year old boy emerged in April. The distress touched a new peak when within a span of a month two more new cases emerged from Karachi and North Waziristan respectively.
What is Polio?
Polio is a viral communicable disease which means that it can propagate through direct contact with the infected person. Originally, the polio virus gets transmitted through water that has been contaminated with faecal matter. When the people living in underprivileged areas consume the contaminated water they acquire the polio disease. Polio in its worst form can cause nerve damage which may lead to paralysis.
A lot of progress has been made, when it comes to eradicating polio. According to a WHO report, 350,000 cases of polio were reported worldwide in 1988. Since then, has been a 99% decrease and in 2018 only 33 cases were reported. All of this has been possible because of the oral and intravenous vaccine programs launched by the WHO. Unfortunately, Pakistan is one of the only two countries that are still polio-ridden. The other country is Afghanistan.
History of Polio in Pakistan
The polio virus caught up with Pakistan in the early 90s. In the 90s, on average 20,000 cases of polio emerged each year. Although, the polio eradication program has helped a lot with the number of cases dropping to 12 in 2018. Unfortunately, a lot is not enough and Pakistan is still fighting the epidemic which the rest of the world has left behind long ago.
Why is it still present in Pakistan?
A lot of factors are behind the undying propagation of polio in Pakistan. In tribal areas of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, terrorists and extremists have spread the wrong concept that vaccinations are harmful and that they are against the teachings of Islam. They have gone as far as attacking health workers who participate in the eradication program. General hesitation of the people and lack of awareness is another reason that the eradication program has not been a 100% success in Pakistan.
The present case is alarming because it is a case from Punjab, a province which is relatively free from terrorism. The people in Punjab also have been less resistant when it comes to vaccinating their children. This shows that environmental pollution in the country is giving way to the growth of the polio virus and people still are negligent about vaccinating their children.
To solve this problem, above all, an awareness campaign is required so that people of Pakistan can work together to eradicate this menace.
This article was produced in partnership with oladoc.com, a digital health company in Pakistan. Using oladoc, you can find doctor by disease in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and book an appointment online.