BANNU: A polio case has surfaced in Bannu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after which the tally in the country this year has reached 20.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has confirmed polio virus in the samples of an 18-month-old boy, hailing from Baizenkhel union council of Bannu. It is the sixth polio case in Bannu and 14th in KP this year.

The latest polio case in Bannu has surfaced few days after Babar bin Atta, the prime minister’s focal person on polio eradication, asked KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to supervise the vaccination campaign in the district to check the increasing polio cases.

According to the National Emergency Operation Centre, before the surfacing of the latest case on Wednesday, eight cases were reported in Bannu division, including five in Bannu district and three in North Waziristan tribal district. Babar bin Atta had warned that the situation will go from bad to worse if emergency measures were not taken to stop the spread of the disease. He had also warned that the virus may spread to the surrounding districts as well if it was not contained immediately.

The focal person stressed that there was no cure for the crippling disease and prevention is the best strategy.

Despite the focal person’s warning and the government’s prompt action, another polio case has surfaced in Bannu. Non-cooperation by parents with the polio teams is a big problem in difficult areas like Bannu.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where polio is categorised is endemic viral infection. Vaccination efforts in these countries are often hampered due to refusal of parents or threats from militants. The National Emergency Operation Centre has already issued warning of presence of poliovirus in eight cities including Peshawar, Bannu, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Qila Abdullah, Pishin, Quetta and Karachi.

The government has taken several measures including arrest of parents, blocking of computerised national identity cards (CNICs) and suspension of privileges of people who refuse to cooperate with the vaccination teams. Several polio officials not performing their duties have also been sacked recently. Despite all these measures taken by the government, polio cases are still surfacing, which means much more needs to be done to realise the dream of polio-free Pakistan.