Via VOA News: Anti-Polio Drive in Peshawar, Pakistan Falters. Excerpt:
The war on polio is in danger of being lost in Pakistan, and in a dramatic development a new strain of polio has been identified in a part of the country where eradication efforts against the crippling disease are most at risk because of attacks against vaccinators.
Pakistan is one of only three countries, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria where polio remains endemic and while eradication efforts are making progress in Afghanistan and Nigeria they are faltering in Pakistan, the only country in the world where polio case rose from 2012 to 2013.
Dr. Sarfraz Khan Afridi, a WHO official based in Peshawar, the capital city of Pakistan’s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhaw province in the northwest of the country, told VOA’s Deewa Radio that 91 cases of polio were reported in 2013, up from 58 in 2012.
Earlier this month, the WHO warned that Peshawar has the world’s largest reservoir of polio virus and that 90 percent of Pakistani polio cases last year were linked to a strain of the disease found in Peshawar’s sewers. The WHO researchers say that 90 percent of the polio cases in Pakistan can be traced back to the highly contagious strain found in Peshawar, and unless transmissions are curbed in Peshawar, the virus could spread, threatening global eradication efforts.
Dr. Kaleemullah Khan who is the deputy head of the Khyber Pakhtunkhaw government’s polio eradication program, also talking to Deewa Radio said if urgent steps were not taken, the polio virus will “soon be known as Pashtun virus,” after the people who live in Pakistan’s northwest regions and Afghanistan.