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KARACHI: The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for Polio in Sindh has confirmed the second case of the crippling disease in Karachi this year.
Five-month-old Zabiullah, son of Ghulam Sakhi, a resident of union council 4, Gadap, faces life-long disability after contracting polio virus because of low immunity. According to the EOC, he had received polio drops but had no routine immunisation.
“It’s highly unfortunate that this child is affected by polio, the teams had reached him with oral polio vaccine but he had no routine immunisation and was low on immunity,” Fayaz Jatoi, Coordinator for the EOC Sindh, said.
The total polio cases reported in Pakistan in 2017 are six, of which two have been reported in Sindh. Given the presence of polio virus in Karachi, Jatoi urged parents to ensure that their children are given polio drops during every campaign until the age of five years.
The EOC also asked parents to ensure that their children get their routine immunisation. “The virus is present in the environment and it will look for children with low immunity,” the EOC coordinator said.
“This is why I urge parents to come forward to get their children vaccinated in every campaign. It’s time to understand that the virus is circulating in Karachi and it will attack the children if they are not vaccinated or are low on immunity.”
Jatoi warned that the parents who refuse the polio vaccine, not only endanger the lives of their own children but also of those living in their community. “We must reach every child,” he said, adding that “extensive steps will be taken to control the spread of the virus”.
With 23 reported polio cases in 2014, Karachi became the largest reservoir of the disease in the world. However, the EOC contained the outbreak through innovative strategies, including the hiring of educated local female workers for the anti-polio campaigns.
“These strategies brought us to the brink of polio eradication,” Jatoi said but added: “Despite the progress made, we still have not reached the finish line. Our workers must double their efforts and we must reach every child.”
Karachi has a target population of approximately 2.4 million children of under-5 years. Jatoi appealed to the media to raise awareness so that parents understand that they must get their children vaccinated on multiple occasions until polio was eradicated.
All private hospitals in Karachi as well as the Pakistan Medical Association and the Pakistan Paediatric Association have endorsed the polio vaccine and polio campaigns and advised repeated vaccination in order to save children and to eradicate the crippling disease from Pakistan.