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Afghan govt asked to arrest spread of poliovirus

By Ashfaq Yusufzai 2014-03-12
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has asked the neighbouring Afghan government, through the Prime Minister`s Polio Cell, to carry out vaccination campaigns in the areas bordering the tribal belt of Pakistan to stop transportation of poliovirus to Peshawar.

`Peshawar is home to four types of poliovirus. In the light of scientific analysis, poliovirus from Kunar province of Afghanistan, Rawalpindi and Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency has been found in the water,` officials said.

The health department last week wrote a letter to the Prime Minister`s Polio Cell regarding the existence of outside viruses in Peshawar and request it to cope with the situation, they said.

Officials said that federal government was on the same page to formally ask the Afghan government to carry out vaccination drive in the border areas to curb poliovirus. `The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been working on a plan to ensure repeated vaccination of children in the areas located close to Khyber Agency on the request of federal government,` they said. The WHO has declared Peshawar a world polio reservoir due to existence of virus in its water.

Last month, water samples from the city were tested negative after two years that meant that the virus didn`t exist, officials said. They added that WHO conducted environmental water sampling on 10th of every month from Peshawar to determine presence of the virus.

`Therefore, we have written to the government to stop the virus coming from outside to the city now as we have eradicated it,` they added.

Officials said that they were able to carry out mass immunisation in the shape of Sehat Ka Insaf (SKI) programme but they needed protection from the virus coming from other areas, particularly Afghanistan.

The provincial health department, which is targeting 754,000 children in Peshawar, hopes that the virus will be eradicated completely.