Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan announced the country's first case of polio in 2023

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan announced the country's first case of polio in 2023

According to a media source on Saturday, a three-year-old child in the Bannu area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has become the newest instance of the paralysing illness, marking Pakistan's first polio case of 2023.

The case was made public at a time when representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and French Agency for Development (FAD) were in the financially constrained nation to assess attempts to halt the spread of the illness, according to the Dawn daily.

The federal health minister Abdul Qadir Patel met with the FAD and BMGF delegations on Friday to examine opportunities for collaboration in social protection and health, with an emphasis on polio eradication, according to the health ministry.

Dr. Shahzad Baig, the director of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio, said that a probe was being conducted to determine if the kid had got the vaccine or whether the parents had declined it.

But, it is obvious that the youngster was not entirely protected, which is why the virus attacked him, Dr. Baig said in a statement to Dawn.

He said that after a five-month hiatus, this was the first instance of the year to be recorded.

On the heels of the anticipated migration from tribal communities to metropolitan areas during Ramadan and Eid, health officials have issued an alarm. Although security officers are already working on the digital census, the authorities are now preparing a vaccination blitz for the start of April 10 in tribal regions.

Seven districts in southern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), according to the chairman of the NEOC, are particularly affected by the virus: Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Bannu, South Waziristan, and North Waziristan. "The vaccine effort has to strongly target [these locations]." With all 20 cases coming from districts in southern KP, the area was the epicentre of the infection in 2022. Two of them were from Lakki Marwat, one was from South Waziristan, and 17 of them were from North Waziristan.

Although a polio campaign was conducted in March in Sindh, Punjab, and Islamabad, it was unable to begin in KP and Balochistan because security personnel were preoccupied with census work.

One of the main organisations assisting Pakistan in its attempts to eradicate the virus is the BMGF. In light of the floods of 2022, which left more than 33 million people in need of relief, the trips are intended to assess Pakistan's needs and comprehend areas for support.

Health Minister Patel said at the discussion on the eradication of polio that flooding had seriously harmed the infrastructure of several areas' health services.

"Thousands of individuals lost their houses and means of support, severely taxing social safety nets. While these are the worst times, Pakistan has not wavered in its commitment to the elimination of polio, according to Patel, who was cited in a health ministry statement. We are still healing.

In contrast to the FAD mission, which was led by Agnes Soucat, director of health and social protection, the Gates Foundation delegation was led by Jay Wenger, the organization's worldwide coordinator for the eradication of polio.

The team noted Pakistan's development in 2022 and expressed optimism that the virus, which had only affected seven areas, would soon be eliminated.

The health minister added, "Pakistan has been combating the poliovirus vigorously thanks to the kind help of the international community.

Environmental samples from Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city after Karachi, tested positive for the polio virus earlier this year in January. As a result, the authorities launched a vaccination programme in 26 of the city's union councils.