Pakistan’s Never-Ending Polio Crisis

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Pakistan is one of three countries in the world – along with Nigeria and Afghanistan – that have been unable to eradicate polio. As Pakistan confronts a disturbing rise in environmental samples of poliovirus, the situation demands an immediate and focused response, transcending political and administrative distractions.

As a recent editorial warned “Amid such a health emergency, the government’s preoccupation with political manoeuvring is troubling. The focus seems diverted from urgent public health concerns to short-term political gains. As the country edges closer to elections in February, there’s a fear that vital issues like polio eradication will be overshadowed by political agendas.”

Polio, with no cure and potentially devastating effects, can only be combated through persistent vaccination efforts. However, these efforts need a committed government and supportive security apparatus.

An editorial in Dawn suggested “reinforcing vaccination drives in high-risk areas, especially those with limited access to healthcare. Community engagement and education are pivotal in overcoming vaccine hesitancy, a significant barrier. Influencers should be involved in spreading awareness about the importance of vaccination. Improving sanitation, access to clean water, and overall healthcare will not only aid in polio eradication but also enhance public health. Lastly, consistent funding and resource allocation for polio campaigns are essential. This includes ensuring adequate supplies of vaccines and supporting the workforce involved in these initiatives. The government must see that these efforts are sustained and not disrupted by political or economic challenges. The window for decisive action is narrowing. Pakistan’s commitment to this cause will be crucial in securing a healthy, polio-free future for its children.”

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Author: Muhammad Butt