WHO declares Peshawar the hub of polio virus

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Pakistan is the only polio-endemic country which is transmitting the virus across border, as more than 90% of the current polio cases in the country genetically linked to Peshawar, it is now the largest reservoir of endemic poliovirus in the world, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported.

Moreover, 12 out of the total 13 cases reported last year from Afghanistan are directly linked to Peshawar.

Pakistan is the only polio-endemic country in the world where polio cases rose from 2012 to 2013. According to the latest genomic sequencing results of the Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio Virus, 83 out of 91 polio cases in 2013 in the country are genetically linked to the poliovirus circulating actively in Peshawar.

During the last four years, samples of sewage water throughout the country are periodically tested for presence of polio virus. 86 samples of sewage water were collected from different locations of Peshawar in the last four years, and 72 of these samples showed the presence of highly contagious and paralytic wild polio virus strain.

All samples of the sewage water collected during the last six months from various areas of Peshawar showed presence of the highly contagious virus.

Peshawar reported 45 polio cases during the last five years.

The explosive polio virus outbreak in Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which left 65 children paralysed in 2013, also originated from Peshawar.

The prevailing security situation in Peshawar has seriously affected the quality of polio campaigns in the city and is resulting in only a few children receiving polio drops.

The existing state of polio eradication efforts in Peshawar by the provincial government needs to be improved to stop the virus from spreading.

WHO recommended that repeated, high quality vaccination campaigns – accompanied by strong monitoring – should be held in Peshawar to stop the polio transmission and protect children from the virus.