Providing basic medical services, including polio vaccinations, to children in the country’s conflict-ridden areas is the key to ending polio worldwide, not concentrating on international travellers, argues renowned researcher Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta in a comment piece in this week’s Nature journal.
Dr Bhutta is the Founding Director of the Centre for Excellence in Women and Child Health at Aga Khan University and co-director of the Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children.
“The real priority should be improving basic health services,” he argues. Travel restrictions could be ineffective and also feed beliefs that polio immunisation is part of a foreign agenda, he writes. A vast majority of polio cases are occurring in the tribal areas.
Dr Bhutta suggests that the government and health agencies devote their energies to scaling up immunisation efforts in these populations, rather than diverting resources to international travellers.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2014.