Skip to main content

Pakistan: Polio Outbreak - May 2019

Disaster types

The Committee is gravely concerned by the significant further increase in WPV1 cases globally in 2019, particularly in Pakistan where 15 cases have already been reported. In Pakistan transmission continues to be widespread, as indicated by the number of positive environmental isolates in many areas of the country, and the proportion of samples that detect WPV1 is rising. The recent cluster of cases in Lahore also indicates that vulnerabilities still exist outside the high-risk corridors. Notably, the increased rate of infection during what is usually the low season may herald even higher rates of infection in the coming high season unless urgent remedial steps are taken. The committee was very concerned about attacks on vaccinators and on the police protecting them. The increasing refusal by individuals and communities to accept vaccination also needs to be actively addressed. While the committee understood that the recent elections and political transition may have adversely affected delivery of the polio program, it is now essential that the new government renews its efforts, noting that the eradication program in the country is no longer on-track. The committee suggested a thorough analysis of the situation in Pakistan be urgently undertaken, to understand what factors have led to the recent but most serious deterioration in polio eradication seen since 2014. Government, program and community factors need to be all included in such a review. (Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR), 29 May 2019).

One wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) case was reported in the past week, from North Waziristan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, with onset of paralysis on 19 May, bringing the total number of WPV1 cases in 2019 to 19. (GPEI, 12 Jun 2019).

According to National Emergency Operations Center, since in 2019, there are 23 cases of wild poliovirus reported in the country including seven from district Bannu, one from district Hangu, one from DIKhan and one from district Shangla in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three cases from Mir Ali, two cases from Miran Shah, one from Khyber and one from Bajaur of tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two from Karachi and one from Larkana in Sindh and three cases from Lahore in Punjab. The special polio vaccination campaign will start on June 17, targeting 10.25 million children under five years old. (Govt. of Pakistan, 16 Jun 2019).