Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday said he would chair an emergency meeting of the National Task Force for Polio Eradication after the country reported its first case of the disabling and life-threatening disease in 15 months.
In a tweet, PM Sharif said, “Deeply concerned at the emergence of one polio case in the country. Eradication of polio was a great achievement made possible through sustained efforts. Many polio workers lost their lives in this fight. I have convened a meeting of the National Task Force on Polio for stock-take!”
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On Friday, the country confirmed a case of the type-1 wild poliovirus (WPV1) in a 15-month old boy in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, the Islamabad-based National Institute of Health said.
“Deeply saddened to share that a 15-month-old boy has been paralyzed in North Waziristan,” Shahzad Baig, a coordinator with the National Emergency Operations Centre for Pakistan’s polio eradication programme, tweeted Friday evening.
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Meanwhile, Pakistan health secretary Aamir Asraf has said the case was a tragedy for the child and the family and also very unfortunate for Pakistan, as well as polio eradication efforts across the world.
“We are disappointed but not deterred,” Ashraf added.
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The case in North Waziristan has taken the global tally of polio cases this year to three. The other two cases of the WPV1 were found in Afghanistan and Malawi.
News agency ANI reported that Pakistan last saw a polio case in January 2021.
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Pakistan is one of two countries – with Afghanistan – where polio still remains endemic. In order for a country to have eradicated the disease, it must be polio-free for three consecutive years.