Poliovirus detected in sewage samples of Peshawar, Pishin

ISLAMABAD  -  Two sewage samples collected from Peshawar and Pishin districts have tested positive for wild poliovirus (WPV1). The Pakistan Polio Labora­tory at the National Institute of Health notified on Wednesday that WPV1 was isolated from an environmen­tal sample collected from Naray Khu­war in Peshawar on September 5 and from Turwa in Pishin on September 4. 

According to the lab, which is also the WHO Regional Reference Lab, the Peshawar sample is connected to the virus detected in Nangarhar, while the Pishin sample is connect­ed to a virus in Kandahar. 

Federal Minister for Health Dr. Na­deem Jan said that the presence of po­liovirus on any side of the border re­mains a constant threat to all children everywhere. “A nationwide polio campaign is scheduled in October to vaccinate over 44 million under-five against this disability-causing virus. I urge parents and caregivers to en­sure that their children are vaccinat­ed in this campaign,” he said. 

Dr Jan said that while the per­sistent detection of the virus in the environment is highly concerning, it also highlights the efficiency of the Pakistan Polio Programme’s surveil­lance system. “As two countries with historic geographic and demograph­ic ties, Pakistan and Afghanistan can­not eradicate polio without each oth­er, and both countries stand united in their fight against polio,” he added.

This is the 11th positive sample from Peshawar this year and the first positive environmental sample from Balochistan since April 2021. 

Both districts were covered in a polio vaccination campaign at the beginning of August, while the next is planned from October 2 onwards, which will be a national drive. 

Federal Health Secretary Iftikhar Shallwani said Pakistan is commit­ted to eradicating polio and has seen a remarkable decline in the number of cases in recent years.

“We are fighting the virus wherev­er we find it, through swift and effec­tive vaccination campaigns, and we will not rest until we have made Pa­kistan polio-free,” he added.

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