Polio cases rise in Pakistan

According to the United Nations children's fund, Pakistan has continued to see a rise in the number of polio cases since the beginning of 2011.
The county has seen 63 cases this year compared to 36 cases over the same period last year. Most of the cases are in the province of Balochistan, which has reported 22 cases this year. The U.N. said that Pakistan may be "the last polio reservoir worldwide" that stands in the way of eradication, the BBC reports.

"We must ensure access to all children as specified in the president's National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication in Pakistan," Daniel Toole, Unicef's South Asia Regional Director, said, according to the BBC. "We have a huge task ahead of us, and we must build on lessons learned and act now."

Toole reiterated the organization's commitment to the eradication of polio and the urgent need to improve the battle against the spread of the disease.

The U.N. said that the virus has circulated in five high-risk districts in Balochistan and has now spread to areas not previously infected in the past five years. These areas include the country's tribal areas and the provinces of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Unicef said the eradication of polio from Pakistan depends on the delivery of oral polio vaccines to each and every child, including those that are the hardest to reach and the most vulnerable.
"This massive undertaking can succeed, but only with the tireless efforts and commitment of the people of Pakistan," a Unicef statement said, according to the BBC.
The next campaign for polio vaccination will be held in September, targeting the 16.5 million children in the districts at the highest risk.