Pakistan records 84% reduction in polio cases: report


A recent healthcare research report has revealed that the number of polio cases in Pakistan has decline sharply during a nine-month period of the current year as compared with 2014.

The research points out that while immunisation gaps exist in the country, there was a reduction of around 84% in the total number of polio cases reported during the given period, according to healthcare publication website Healio.

“The number and geographic spread of wild poliovirus type 1 cases have decreased,” Noha H Farag, MD of the Global Immunisations Division of the United States CDC, and colleagues wrote.

“However, gaps in campaign performance and surveillance, evidenced by the persistence of continually missed children and the detection of wild viruses in environmental samples, are indicative of ongoing programme challenges.”

Findings of the research indicate a total number of 38 reported polio cases from January to September as compared to 243 cases for the same period in 2014. “This might reflect expected low incidence following the high incidence seen in 2014,” the researchers wrote.

“But, the decline also followed the launch and rigorous implementation of a plan to intensify polio eradication activities during January to April 2015, the low transmission season.”

While estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations International Children Economic Fund (Unicef) reported 72% polio vaccination coverage of infants in the country for 2014 compared with 2013, the researchers said some children did not receive vaccinations because of poor supervision, inadequate micro-planning and failure to train and motive vaccinators.

“Focused efforts to close remaining immunity gaps by locating, tracking, and vaccinating continually missed children and improving coverage with the oral polio vaccine through the routine vaccination program are needed to stop wild poliovirus transmission in Pakistan,” Farag and colleagues wrote.

The research further revealed that polio virus was detected in at least 20% of environmental samples from January to September, highlighting surveillance gaps. “To achieve the goal of ending polio virus transmission in Pakistan in 2016, continued government leadership of the polio eradication program and further improvements in campaign quality are needed to reach and vaccinate all children,” it said.

Earlier this month, state minister for health Saira Afzal Tarar expressed her displeasure over the performance of Sindh health department, especially on the issue of polio campaigns. Tarar urged the provincial health department officials to expedite the anti-polio drives across the province.