Anti-polio campaigns in Pakistan proving challenging

PAKISTAN - Despite regular door-to-door anti-polio campaigns round the year in the district of Mianwali in Pakistan, a minor girl has been diagnosed with polio virus a few days ago in the Kot Chandna Afghan Refugee.

According to reports, three-year-old Zulekha Naghma was administered anti-polio drops 14 times.

Afghan refugee camp sources said Zulekha suffered from cough and fever nearly a month ago and her parents visited quacks for treatment who administered to her some injections but she did not recover. Ultimately they carried her to camp doctor with fever besides some crippling symptoms. The doctor referred her for laboratory test to Kalabagh THQ hospital.

Dr Masood Malik, in-charge of polio patients for Isakhel tehsil, says the laboratory diagnosis of polio shocked the health department, being the first case of 2013.

Talking to Dawn, Dr Rafaqatullah Khan, in-charge of the Afghan Refugee camp hospital, said that Zulekha was registered with the visiting polio team and her parents confirmed that she had been administered anti-polio drops for 14 times during 2012.

Khan said: "The presence of polio virus here cannot be ruled out because Afghans of the camp frequently travel to and from Afghanistan and they may contract infection."

Mianwali District Coordination Officer (DCO) Zulfiqar Ahmed explained that he visited the Afghan camp on Friday and had conducted a facts-finding inquiry which revealed that polio teams did their duty honestly and administered drops for 14 times to children, including Zulekha.

"However, the officials of Expanded Programme on immunisation (EPI) have informed me that there are many types of polio virus which render the polio drops ineffective in some cases," the DCO said.