Doubling the efforts

There is still much to be desired before Pakistan can gain the status of being polio-free

Editorial December 09, 2017

If there is one fight that Pakistan gradually seems to be winning against, it is polio eradication from the country. The country has experienced a drastic decrease in the number of polio-related cases being reported. The region of Fata, Khyber Agency in particular had the most reported cases of children falling prey to the dreadful polio virus, with 11 cases in 2015 and 76 cases in 2014. However, the numbers have drastically declined to a total of zero cases being reported in the past two years, thanks to the improvement in law and order situation in the region and an effective anti-polio vaccination strategy, along with the positive response from the local community.

However, there is still much to be desired before Pakistan can gain the status of being polio-free as the second case of a child being diagnosed with the virus in Karachi has increased the total number of cases being reported this year to six. Though the numbers fare better than those of last year’s — with 20 cases being reported — strategies that keep in view the changing political conditions should be devised to experience no disruption in the eradication process. With the upcoming general election of 2018, a disruption in the effective anti-polio campaign is feared.

According to the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for Polio, the 2013 national elections had witnessed the complete dismantling of the whole of the prime minister’s polio cell. For a considerable period of time, the campaign was not only leaderless but the IMB report released on December 8th had also termed the key polio staff “actors in search of a play.” It also declared the region of Balochistan the most challenging in the world owing to its security concerns.

In the wake of these concerns, it is significant that the already taken efforts are doubled and the bureaucratic process is eased for Pakistan to be able to fulfill its international commitment of being polio-free region. 

Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2017.

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