PESHAWAR: After the Independent Monitoring Board labeled Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) a ‘safe sanctuary’ for polio virus – 40% of all polio cases in the country were recorded there last year – a new case has been reported in Mardan district.
The crippling virus has paralysed another child for life as the National Institute of Health Islamabad confirmed two and a half year old Huzaifa, a resident of Salar Kallay, has been infected with polio.
This brings the number of polio patients reported in the country in 2013 to five; three of those are in K-P. The first case of 2013 was reported in Karachi, then in Bannu, Malakand, Mian Wali and now the fifth one in Mardan.
Interestingly, the chief secretary of the polio monitoring cell, established under the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), claimed ignorance of the case in Mardan. An official of the cell, when contacted on Friday, said “We have no information,” although media reports about it had surfaced late Thursday night.
Officials responsible at the provincial level for polio-related activities did not respond to attempts made by The Express Tribune for their comments on the case and what, if any, plans are in place to prevent more incidents.
After the unrelenting attacks on polio workers in December last year and January 2013, the provincial health department stopped providing information to the media about their plans.
So far, two police officials have been killed this year as they escorted polio workers, the latest such attack being on February 26.
In 2012, the country registered a total of 58 cases, of those, 14 were registered in the first two months of the year.