Doctor’s Profile

 Dr Imran Khwaja. MBBS

Close to 450,000 children under five die annually in Pakistan — a rate only second to Afghanistan in the region. One-third of these deaths, that is 150,000, are due to vaccine preventable disorders. At least close to 90,000 child deaths can be prevented every year by universal immunization. Climate, population density and other factors provide the polio virus an excellent breeding ground in Pakistan. Immunization rates and surveillance are weak. Pakistan has the highest rate of prevalence of polio in the world today despite receiving huge foreign funding and carrying out more than a dozen nation-wide campaigns for countering polio. A highly infectious disease that affects the nervous system, polio once left many children partially paralyzed.

What is polio?

Q: What is polio?

Ans: Poliomyelitis or polio is highly infectious and affects the nervous system, sometimes resulting in paralysis.

What causes polio?

Q: What causes polio? Polio is caused by a virus.

How is polio transmitted?

Q:How is polio transmitted?

It’s transmitted through contaminated food, drinking water, faeces and swimming pool water.

What are the symptoms?

Q: What are the symptoms?

In most cases polio may cause no symptoms. Three to 21 days after infection a slight fever and sore throat may develop. There may be vomiting, headache and abdominal pain. The illness only lasts 2-3 days. In about 1% of cases, the signs of abortive polio are present but the headache, nausea and vomiting are much worse. There may also be stiffness of the neck, trunk and limb muscles. This is called non paralytic polio.

Who does polio normally affect?

Q: Who does polio normally affect?

Ans:Polio mainly affects people who haven’t been immunized. Most parts of the world are now polio-free following successful immunization programmes. In the Pakistan routine immunization is offered to babies and booster doses are given to children before they start school and after they leave. Vaccination is the only effective method of preventing polio.

How is polio diagnosed?

Q: How is polio diagnosed?

Ans: If a person is suspected of being infected, a sample from their stool or throat should be tested for the poliomyelitis virus.

What is the treatment for polio?

Q: What is the treatment for polio?

Ans: There’s no specific treatment for polio infection. Symptomatic therapy with painkillers, for example, is usually all that’s necessary when infection is mild. If the infection is severe then admission to hospital may be needed, particularly if respiration is affected. Those with paralysis can be helped to regain function in the affected limb or limbs with physiotherapy. Prognosis. Pakistan has come a long way in its struggle to eradicate polio. In the early years of the 1990′s the annual incidence of polio was estimated at more than 20,000 cases a year, but over the past 5 years an average of only 100 cases per year have been reported. The national polio eradication effort has made major strides in reaching out to children with immunization in all parts of the country over the past 15 years. Despite the challenges, Pakistan is very much capable of addressing the issues that fail us in reaching out to the children with vaccine.