Pakistan faces the big setback on the Polio front, reveals international media report

Shares
Pakistan faces the big setback on the Polio front, reveals international media report

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan faces the big setback on the Polio front, reveals international media report that a dangerous and extinct polio virus type has been diagnosed in Pakistan.

British publication *The Guardian* reported that the Pakistani government was trying to contain an outbreak of what was believed to have been an extinct type of the virus.

In its report, the paper said most of the most of the affected patients are from the Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan. The virus has also been detected and diagnosed within Islamabad.

12 children have already been paralyzed, as this strain of the virus, called P2, is much more debilitating than the usual forms of the virus.

In a tweet, Babar bin Atta, the government's former focal person on the anti-polio campaign, said that Dr Malik Safi - who confirmed the outbreak to *The Guardian - *was recently removed from the office. Atta himself is facing a corruption allegations that suggest he mismanaged funds allocated to him by the United Kingdom's DFID, and was removed from this position based on these allegations.

However, *The Guardian *report suggests that Atta is directly involved with suppressing the information of the new outbreak from international donor organizations and the media. As Pakistan is now the only country in the world where the P2 virus exists, it is likely measures will be taken against Pakistanis travelling overseas to ensure that the virus does not proliferate.

Since the article has become viral, Atta has claimed that what the report suggests is *"*baseless", and states that the publication is mixing up another strain of the polio virus with the P2 virus.

The state minister for health, Zafar Mirza, has also stated that the outbreak is of a "Sabin-Like Type 2" virus outbreak, and said that there has been "absolutely no cover up". Considering that this acknowledgement comes after *The Guardian* piece, the government response has been met with understandable scrutiny.

According to the World Health Organization, the strain that the government is claiming has been discovered in Diamir and Islamabad is caused when polio vaccines are excreted and end up in the environment. When in the same area, children have not received polio drops, they become susceptible to being infected with the virus within the excreted vaccines. This means that the current outbreak is a result of an incomplete or inconsistent vaccination campaign.

What is more damning for the government is that for cases of paralysis to occur, the virus must have been present in vulnerable populations for at least 12 months.

OpEd