K-P’s polio-free year

Editorial June 22, 2024


The recent success of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) polio eradication efforts has been remarkable, and vaccination programme workers and officials deserve recognition for their dedication and determination in fighting the debilitating disease. The province has been disease-free so far this year, a marked recovery after 20 cases were reported in the province in 2022, and a sign that authorities have gotten their act in order since then — three cases were reported in 2023, all in less developed areas.

However, despite this significant progress, it is important to recognise the remaining challenges that Pakistan continues to face in the battle against polio. The fact that Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan are the only two endemic countries left in the world underscores the continued urgency of this public health issue. The persistence of polio in these regions calls for sustained efforts and resources to reach every child with life-saving vaccines. Addressing misinformation through a combination of public awareness and punitive measures remains a priority because, despite the efforts of polio workers, the government, NGOs and civil society, negative propaganda against vaccination remains one of the biggest hurdles in reaching the goal of disease eradication.

Global Polio Eradication Initiative officials have also recently warned against complacency, as they “expect more spread over this high transmission season”, referring to the summer months. Meanwhile, even though cases in recent years have occurred as far from the Afghan border as Karachi, the virus was the same strain as the one found at the border, meaning that even more focus is needed on vaccinating all children along the border. We have developed a habit of getting to the verge of polio eradication, only to take a great leap backward at the finish line. The goal of recording no polio cases for three consecutive years to be formally declared polio-free is within reach, but it demands unwavering commitment and collaborative action at all levels.


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