ISLAMABAD (92 News) – British newspaper Guardian has revealed that the Pakistani authorities are hiding facts about polio epidemic.
According to the report of Guardian, officials in Pakistan have been accused of covering up an outbreak of the most dangerous strain of polio and planning a covert vaccination programme to contain the disease.
According to a source in Pakistan’s polio eradication programme and documentation seen by the Guardian
, a dozen children have been infected with the P2 strain of polio epidemic, which causes paralysis and primarily effects those under five.
Dr Malik Safi, coordinator of the national emergency operation centre of the Pakistan polio eradication programme, confirmed the P2 outbreak, but would not give any further comment.
The P2 strain had previously been eliminated from the country. However, the new cases were allegedly kept hidden from the government and from international donors, including the UK’s Department for International Development, under direct instruction from Babar Bin Atta, the prime minister’s focal representative on polio eradication, who was last month forced to resign after he was accused of corruption. DfID has donated millions to Pakistan’s polio eradication programme.
The re-emergence of P2 would not only be a dramatic step back in Pakistan’s fight against the polio, it would also be symptomatic of what those in the programme have described as “terrible mismanagement” under Bin Atta.
Alongside Afghanistan, Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world that has not entirely eradicated polio. It was a key milestone in 2014, when Pakistan officially declared it had entirely eradicated P2 polio.
Polio exists in three different strands, P1, P2, and P3, with P2 notorious as the most contagious and most vicious in its impact on those infected.
Guardian misreported on alleged return of P2 virus: minister
Babar bin Atta says not even once was he approached by Guardian for this matter. “Guardian has confused P2 with Vaccine Derived Polio Virus or Sabin-Like Type 2 Derived,” Atta said.
State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza has refuted The Guardian’s report that P2 poliovirus has returned to Pakistan and was concealed by former Prime Minister's Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar bin Atta.