Islamabad, Jan 1 (IANS) The New Year started on an unhappy note for Pakistan with the first polio case of 2015 reported Thursday from Balochistan’s Chaghi district.
Sources from the Balochistan health department told Dawn that the crippling virus was found in two-year-old Shafi Muhammad from the Barabcha area that lies close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
“At this point in time, we cannot say whether the parents had refused polio drops,” sources said.
A total of 22 polio cases were reported from Balochistan in 2014 – most of them in Quetta, Killa Abdullah and Pishin districts of the province.
Polio teams have been facing tough resistance from extremists in the those districts.
In view of increasing polio cases, the provincial government has already declared emergency to eradicate the crippling virus in Balochistan.
The health department had launched a special campaign in high-risk districts, including Quetta, Pishin, Killa Abdullah and other areas to ensure provision of polio drops to children below the age of five years.
Security has been tightened during polio campaigns in the aftermath of the cold-blodded murder of four polio workers in Quetta Nov 26, 2014.
The year 2014 was the darkest year for the Pakistan polio programme, with the number of confirmed cases reaching 296 — the highest number of cases reported in the country since 1998.
Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic but efforts to eradicate the disease have been severely hindered in recent years as militants continue to attack immunisation teams and polio workers.
Polio cases in Pakistan reached a low of 28 in 2005 but rose to 198 in 2011, In 2012, Pakistan recorded 58 cases, while 93 were recorded in 2013, as reported by End Polio Pakistan.