Every country’s biggest asset is its human capital, Pakistan’s future is its children. Unfortunately, the Pakistani state does not care about this future as is evident in the refusal to allocate resources for large scale immunization programs.
As an editorial in Dawn notes, “far too many children are afflicted by, and, in fact, lose their lives to, vaccine-preventable diseases. Amongst these ailments is measles and there has been a sustained surge in the number of measles cases reported in Karachi over the past few weeks.”
A range of life-threatening diseases are covered under the Expanded Programme on Immunisation including measles and diphtheria, as well as polio. Yet “because of vaccine hesitancy, and bureaucratic inefficiency, all targeted children are not receiving the doses that would keep them safe from deadly and debilitating ailments.”
As Dawn notes, “Punjab has the best numbers, as around 90 percent of children in the province have been inoculated against vaccine-preventable diseases. The figures for other provinces need much improvement. For example, in Sindh, 68 percent of the children are fully immunised, while the figure for Balochistan is an abysmal 38 percent.”
The editorial in Dawn calls upon “health authorities in all provinces need to ramp up their respective EPI drives. Of course, in some areas there are dangerous obstacles, such as threats to polio teams. But these need to be overcome by engaging community elders, and neutralising violent elements where militants threaten health workers.”