Rising cases of polio: Pakistan’s failure may put 200,000 children at risk

Published: March 21, 2012

One of the major reasons behind the polio outbreak in the country is the migration of people from Bara tehsil.

ISLAMABAD: 

About 200,000 children worldwide are at risk of being infected with the polio virus exported from Pakistan, if the $12 billion anti-polio campaigns across the country fail.

This was said by World Health Organization (WHO) Emergencies and Country Collaboration Assistant Director-General-Polio Dr Bruce Aylward in a press conference on Tuesday.

Dr Aylward said in May, countries across the globe will gather in Geneva for a world health assembly. There, health experts will closely monitor the status of polio eradication across the globe. Pakistan and Nigeria will be the focus of the session, he said, and if the situation in the two is found unsatisfactory then a global polio emergency will be declared.

WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region Regional Director Dr Ala Alwan said Pakistan is one of only three countries that never stopped transmission of polio virus. Currently half of the children in the world who contract polio are from Pakistan, he added.

“[However,] we are hopeful that Pakistan will be successful in eradicating polio as many other countries, which were in worse crises than Pakistan successfully eradicated [the virus] completely,” he said.

He announced that Edhi foundation has joined hands with the WHO in their campaign for polio eradication. Parents will be able to call polio team members at their door step by calling 115, in addition to the option of getting them vaccinated at Edhi health centres across the country, Dr Alwan added.

Dr Alwan said one of the major reasons behind the polio outbreak in the country is the migration of people from Bara tehsil in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. There has not been a single anti-polio campaign in Bara since 2009, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2012.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Mirza
    Mar 21, 2012 - 9:06AM

    Despite all the so-called corruption during the last four decades we still had plenty of money to develop a couple of hundred nuclear warheads. This is in addition to more than half a million army with all its perks and expensive toys. When it comes to the poor children of civilians there is no money. Pakistanis have to rethink their priorities. They cannot compete with the big countries and provide for the common people at the same time. They may have polio, fake or substandard medicines and dengue but we are happy to have bombs.
    The lack of interest in this news says it all! More attention and national resources are spent on the US double agent than sick Pakistani children.

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  • Salman
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:37AM

    I think blaming Pakistan military would not fair to blame for the failure to control Polio. Many different organization around the world helped Pakistan to eradicate Polio and donate money to this civilian government but for some reason money never utilize for Polio.
    Case in point, Gates and Malinda Foundation of Bill Gates pour millions of dollars just for Polio eradication but we never hear about this in our media or by our government. We all know where the money is going to who’s and who’s pockets but we always like to blame the military because it is convenient for us.
    Google this “gates and Melinda foundation polio Pakistan”

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  • Mard-e-Haq
    Mar 21, 2012 - 12:26PM

    It’s not just the corruption alone. Many poor parents get spooked by the “Western infidel” vaccine conspiracy theory propagated by village mullahs. Although polio is usually not specifically mentioned, the message sinks in among the poor and less informed.

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  • vasan
    Mar 21, 2012 - 12:33PM

    Why dont Pak train its army in polio vaccination and put them to good use in this globally important venture of Polio eradication.

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  • Aaron
    Mar 22, 2012 - 7:29PM

    It is easy to blame the military for the woes of not being able to eradicate polio in Pakistan, however what has not yet been mentioned is the reason why Pakistan have chosen to take on an arms project in the first place. One needs to look at the wider area security context before being able to attribute blame in certain areas. India has the ‘bomb’, so therefore in order to create equilibrium in the geographic area Pakistan has their own. It is a complex situation and it is not as simple as it comes across. Mard-e-Haq raises a good point in that the Mullahs and Imam play a significant part to play in the scare mongering about the ‘Western Medicines’ as do the Taliban who are very active in the West of Pakistan. What doesn’t make it easy in eradicating polio in Pakistan is also the porous border into Afghanistan which is also another significant issue in ensuring polio is eradicated as people of the area regularly walk where ever they wish to over the various mountain ranges. Conflict also plays a significant part in preventing teams from entering areas and administering the required vaccinations. Give a thought to all of this before placing ‘single story’ blame in one area.

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  • Fauzia Mussarat
    Mar 22, 2012 - 10:24PM

    Sad that the world’s seventh nuclear power has not been able to eradicate polio.

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  • Karim
    Mar 26, 2012 - 11:58PM

    I fail to understand why you all think it is the Pakistani army’s duty to solve the country’s problems, the defense budget does not have space for polio eradication. One side they Army’s fighting the extremists, on the East they’re protecting us from India. Anytime a natural disaster takes place the Army is the first one to reach the scene and the jawaans help out with everything. The fact that you all talk about the Army’s need to get involved in everything goes on to show why the dictators seize power in the country. Every time a democratic party comes into power they plunge into unparalleled corruption and yet the same people keep coming back into power over and over. What bigotry. Our leaders should be held accountable for their crimes yet the court has to deal with incidents on a day-to-day basis, taking suo moto notices of every shocking incident that takes place every other day. Can only hope for a better future.

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