Pakistan worsens as world’s hotbed of polio

A Pakistani health worker gives a polio vaccine to children in Lahore, Pakistan.
A Pakistani health worker gives a polio vaccine to children in Lahore, Pakistan.

• From Mint News

KARACHI, Pakistan — The number of reported cases of polio crossed the 200 mark in October, confirming Pakistani health officials’ worst fears: The viral disease is out of control there.

In 2012 and 2013, polio cases were down significantly — 58 and 93, respectively. However, when Pakistan reported its 212th case last week, it shattered its own 14-year record of 198 reported cases in 2011.

Reproaching Pakistan, which is considered polio’s last refuge, Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), told a high-level meeting at the U.N. General Assembly in September: “Pakistan is the single most important stumbling block along the road to ending polio, once and for all.”

Polio is spreading within Pakistan’s borders, with cases reported in Karachi, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Lahore. Yet Dr. Durry Elias, the head of the WHO’s polio team in Pakistan, is worried it will soon spread to other countries and the 25-plus years of eradication work “will all come to naught.”

In Nigeria and Afghanistan, the other two countries where polio remains endemic, there has been a marked decrease in reported cases this year: Nigeria has reported six and Afghanistan 12.

The majority of the cases in Afghanistan can be traced back to the virus strain in Pakistan, Elias told MintPress News.

Go here for the full story.

[You’ll notice this excerpt is from Mint News. That is an independent online journalism start-up that launched in February 2013 to provide what it calls “issue-based original reporting, in-depth investigations and thoughtful analysis of the most pressing topics facing our nation and it’s foreign policy through the lens of social justice and human rights. … We also believe in journalistic independence of our reporters, and a truly independent media that is NOT influenced by advertisers or donors.”]


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