According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), only three countries remain polio-endemic, one of them being Pakistan. It is shameful that Pakistan has still not been able to counter a preventable disease. The first case of polio was reported in the North Waziristan Agency on May 3, since the Taliban imposed a ban on the entry of vaccination teams in the region in June last year. The Taliban do not even value human life so why would they care if our children are disabled? We must not allow the Taliban to dictate our lives.
Extremists have already given fatwas declaring polio vaccination ‘infidel vaccination’, resulting in deadly attacks on anti-polio teams. Despite these tactics adopted by the terrorists to scare away those administering polio drops, it is commendable that many humanitarian workers have not cowed down. If polio is to be completely eradicated from Pakistan, people will have to change their attitude towards the immunisation campaign. They must reject the absurd extremist view that the polio campaign is a conspiracy hatched by Western countries to reduce Muslim populations. In fact, it is a politically-motivated campaign by the extremists to defend their fanatic views. A similar anti-polio campaign was witnessed in the Nigerian state of Kano in 2003. We must not tread on a similar self-destructive path.
It is certainly not an easy task to eliminate extremism from our soil but we can certainly eradicate polio from our country. More than 125 countries have already eradicated this disease. People should be made aware through media and door-to-door campaigns, especially in far-flung areas, that polio vaccination can save children from permanent disability in life and secure a better future for them. Continuity in the immunisation campaign and a realisation of the importance of a polio-free society will make a lot of difference. The future of our children depends on our fight against polio. We must not fail them.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ