ISLAMABAD: The capital and the industrial town of Faisalabad were the only two cities that emerged polio-free from the latest round of testing.
Although Peshawar was declared polio-free in September, but recent samples taken from the city’s sewage have once again tested positive for the poliovirus. Samples taken from around the country showed that sewage from Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta and Jacobabad still contained traces of the poliovirus.
An official from the National Institute of Health (NIH), told Dawn that sewage samples were collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) in second week of November and sent to the NIH laboratory for testing.
“In December 2013, WHO declared Peshawar ‘the world’s largest reservoir for the poliovirus’. This led to programmes such as Sehat Ka Insaf, which saw as many as seven million doses of polio given to children in Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda and Swabi. Thanks to the campaign, Peshawar was declared polio-free after samples collected in the month of August were declared clean,” he said
Virus detected in sewage samples taken from nearly all major urban centres
“But the virus has been detected again in samples taken from the Larma and Shaheen Town union councils,” he said.
“Testing sewage samples from the area is one of the basic parameters to check if polio campaigns are successful or not. The poliovirus can be reported in any city because of the frequent movement of people from one city to another, but if virus is found in sewer water, it meant that the campaign had failed badly,” he said.
“This also shows that the immunity level of the children of the area has diminished and they are at risk from the disease,” he said.
However, a Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) official said: “The anti-polio campaign could not be held in Peshawar for two months because of financial issues. However, immunisation was conducted in the city a few days ago. Another reason for the virus being detected in the sewage is that a number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have shifted to Peshawar because of the military operation in Waziristan, who could have carried the virus with them,” he said.
Officials said that while the two cities had previously been declared polio-free, samples from Multan and Sukkur had also tested positive this time around.
“In Islamabad, the sample was taken from the Afghan Basti in Sector I-11, one of the areas most vulnerable to the poliovirus because it houses a large number of people from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata. But the fact that the virus has not been detected here shows how effective the campaign has been here,” he said.
“Sewage samples were collected from Safdarabad and Hazara Colony in Rawalpindi, the Main Outfall Road Pumping Station in Lahore, which rested negative, but a smaple taken from Multan Road in Lahore did test positive for the virus,” he said.
“Samples were taken from Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gadap Town and Baldia Town in Karachi, Jatak Village and the Takhthani bypass in Quetta, the Safdar Pumping Station in Jacobabad and the Tulsidas Pumping Station in Hyderabad,” he said.
Picture Source:DAWN TV