PESHAWAR: The National Institute of Health Islamabad has confirmed four new polio cases, including two from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and one from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to officials.
They said that the fourth victim of polio belonged to a Pakhtun family, currently living in Karachi.
Officials said that Fata had recorded 38 polio cases, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had seven, Sindh had five and Punjab had recorded three out of the total cases reported in 2013 so far.
According to them, the new cases have brought the nationwide polio count to 53. They said that 58 polio cases were recorded last year in the country. According to the laboratory report, one-year-old Bushra, daughter of Abdullah, a resident of Hindikhel area in Frontier Region of Bannu, has been tested positive for polio. She remained unvaccinated since June 2012. Similarly, one-year-old Tufail, son of Nair Shah, a resident of Mirdadkhel in Khyber Agency, was also diagnosed with polio. He didn’t get oral polio vaccine.
Two-month-old Nazeefa, daughter of Ziaul Haq, a resident of village Miramand Banda in Swabi, was also confirmed with poliomyelitis as she didn’t receive any dose of the oral vaccine.
Officials said that Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had become a challenge for vaccinators, who were not able to reach the children in inaccessible areas. Killing of 17 people in polio-related activities by alleged militants also caused problem of refusals in Swabi and Mardan, they said.
The situation in Fata, which is a clear threat to global efforts for polio eradication, will be difficult to improve because of the ban imposed by Taliban in North and South Waziristan on vaccination and mass exoduses from Khyber Agency in the wake of the military operation.
The fourth victim of polio, one-year-old Rehmatullah, son of Yar Mohammad, also belongs to a Pakhtun family presently living in Gadap Town of Karachi.
Physiotherapy can help polio victims
Meanwhile, health experts at a seminar held in Peshawar on Sunday stressed that physiotherapy could help polio affected children to walk again, and urged the parents to avail the facility at all costs.
The seminar was held in connection with the World Polio Day at the Habib Physiotherapy Complex (HPC), Hayatabad.
The speakers called for raising public awareness for availing treatment facilities as many people believed that there was no treatment for polio affected children. They said the role of physiotherapy was vital in reducing disabilities caused by polio.
They said the message on World Polio Day would lead to increased awareness among the people about treatment of the affected children.
Treatment of affected children along with quality immunisation campaigns could make Pakistan polio-free, they maintained.
“Poliomyelitis, a vaccine-preventable childhood ailment causes paralysis of limbs, arms and legs. Though the disease is totally incurable physiotherapy can help reduce disability, enabling children to walk,” said Mahboob ur Rehman, chairman of Mahboob School of Physiotherapy, Gandhara University, while speaking at the seminar.
He said these children were destined to become completely handicapped if they were left untreated. “But if their parents bring them to HPC for physical therapy they can be cured and lead normal lives again,” he said and added: “We have designed treatment protocol for polio-affected and special children that has enabled us to manage them and bring them back to the mainstream society through awareness.”
Mr Rehman said: “We need to convince parents that the treatment regime for polio affected children can continue for years, but is still possible and extremely important to protect them from permanent disability.”
He said that oral polio vaccine was the only way to protect children from the crippling disease, which has affected 50 children in the country, including 37 in Fata and seven in KP. Vaccination of children up to five years of age can make Pakistan polio-free, he said.
Mr Rehman said the school in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and Polio Health International had been extending services to polio affected and special children free of cost.
“WHO helps in corrective surgeries on the paralysed people while PHI provides walking aids and special shoes for polio effected children,” said Mr Rehman.