Pakistan only polio-endemic nation with more cases

WHO report said that Pakistan is the only polio-endemic country in the world and it reported most cases of crippling disease in 2013 and 2012.

Jan 15, 2014 12:52 IST
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A report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that Pakistan is the only polio-endemic country in the world and it reported most cases of crippling disease in 2013 and 2012.

Pakistan had 83 polio cases in 2013 and 58 cases in 2012. In 2013, a total of 369 cases from the endemic and non-endemic countries have been recorded from the world, which also includes Pakistan. Of 83 cases recorded in Pakistan, 59 cases are from Fata, 10 were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and seven each from the Punjab and Sind. All the recorded cases are type-1 cases but no cases of type-3 was recovered.

As per an analysis, non-uniform routine immunisation coverage in several areas is a major reason for the increase in the cases.

Basic reason for non-uniform routine immunisation coverage in Pakistan is the attack of Taliban on health workers. Many health workers have lost their lives due to the militant attacks suffered by them.

In its report, WHO report witnessed only 11 polio cases in 2013 in Afghanistan of which maximum were associated with multiple importations with no evidence of local re-establisation circulation. 35 cases were reported there in 2012.

Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the three nations where polio remains endemic as per the report released by WHO.

Polio and its symptoms: Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It has the ability to cause total paralysis in a matter of hour by invading into the nervous system. The virus generally enters through intestine and is multiplied in the intestine. Fever, fatigue, vomiting, headache, pain in limbs and stiffness in neck are the initial symptom of the disease. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). 5 to 10 percent of paralysed people die when their breathing muscles become immobilized. It mainly affects children under five years of age.

There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life.

Polio and Global cases: Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350000 cases in more than 125 endemic countries then, to 223 reported cases in 2012. In 2013, only parts of three countries in the world remain endemic for the disease–the smallest geographic area in history–and case numbers of wild poliovirus type 3 are down to lowest-ever levels.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative: In 1988, the forty-first World Health Assembly adopted a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio. It marked the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), spearheaded by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and supported by key partners including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This followed the certification of the eradication of smallpox in 1980, progress during the 1980s towards elimination of the poliovirus in the Americas, and Rotary International’s commitment to raise funds to protect all children from the disease.

Overall, since the GPEI was launched, the number of cases has fallen by over 99%. In 2013, only three countries in the world remain polio-endemic: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In 1994, the WHO Region of the Americas was certified polio-free, followed by the WHO Western Pacific Region in 2000 and the WHO European Region in June 2002. Of the three types of wild poliovirus (type 1, type 2 and type 3), type 2 wild poliovirus transmission has been successfully stopped (since 1999).

The new Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018 has been developed, in consultation with polio-affected countries, stakeholders, donors, partners and national and international advisory bodies. The new Plan was presented at a Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, at the end of April 2013. It is the first plan to eradicate all types of polio disease simultaneously – both due to wild poliovirus and due to vaccine-derived polioviruses.

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