Pakistan has reported its 13th case of the wild polio virus this year, as the country looks to contain a disease mostly eradicated elsewhere in the world.
The latest case was recorded in the Lakki Marwat area in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on July 22 and involved an 18-month-old “undernourished” boy, health officials said.
The previous 12 cases were reported in the same province’s North Waziristan district, a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, near the Afghan border.
“This is the first polio case reported from outside of the North Waziristan district where vaccinators were still facing serious challenges in reaching out to children due to resistance from local religious leaders and unwilling parents,” provincial health officials told Reuters.
The latest outbreak prompted Pakistan to launch a new, nationwide anti-polio vaccination drive on June 27 to inoculate 12.6 million children under the age of five.
Militant groups often attack polio vaccination teams and police officers assigned to protect them, falsely claiming that the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children. More than 100 health workers and their security guards have been killed in Pakistan since 2012.
Pakistan regularly launches anti-polio campaigns in an effort to eradicate the highly infectious disease that paralyses children.