Pakistan’s Polio cases limited to southern KP, says WHO

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The Director General of the World Health Organization has presented a report to the upcoming World Health Assembly that polio cases in Pakistan are now mainly limited to southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where there are still challenges in accessing children.

In the report, the Director General said that since January 2021, all reported cases have been reported in seven polio-affected districts of southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa out of a total of 171 districts of the country.

According to WHO data, one case of wild polio virus has been reported in Bannu this year.

The World Health Assembly begins in Geneva on May 21, where much of the discussion will be on the ongoing and emerging situation of Covid-19, while member states will also discuss global efforts to eradicate polio.

Type 1 of the wild poliovirus has been found in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, both of which are the last countries where the virus is present locally, the WHO said.

The two countries have shown steady progress since 2000, as evidenced by the declining number of cases of poliomyelitis and positive environmental samples, geographically transmitted, and the number of transmission chains in a single active chain in each country.

The WHO report added that the presence of wild poliovirus type 1 in environmental samples outside of these remaining reservoir areas shows a continued risk of its transmission.

According to the report, 20 cases of polio mellitus and 41 positive environmental samples of wild poliovirus type 14 were reported in Pakistan during the year 2022 due to wild poliovirus type 13, all cases were concentrated in three districts of southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Therefore, an operational plan specifically targeting southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was implemented.

Similarly, the genetic diversity of wild poliovirus type 1 in Pakistan continues to decline in Afghanistan and a single transmission chain appeared in early 2023 compared to 11 chains in 2020.

As in Afghanistan, the genetic diversity of type 1 transmission of wild poliovirus in Pakistan continues to decline with a single active individual transmission chain at the beginning of 2023, compared to 11 chains in 2020 and four in 2021.