Tuesday February 07, 2023

Anti-polio drive

By Editorial Board
June 09, 2021

Being one of the only two countries in the world where poliovirus is still existing, Pakistan needs to complete its current anti-polio drive in earnest. The five-day anti-polio campaign started on June 7, 2021 and is likely to continue during the week. This country-wide drive is targeting 124 districts of the country where over 33 million children up to five years old will be vaccinated. The real credit for this campaign goes directly to the over two hundred thousand frontline workers who are participating in this drive in this scorching heat, which will no doubt make their job highly challenging. Pakistan hopes to achieve a polio-free status through various measures which will be adopted this year. The first among these is to make people, particularly parents, aware of the disease and its consequences. Giving people information is seen as a vital means to carry out health campaigns according to the WHO, which held the 74th World Health Assembly virtually a short while ago. Health workers have been trained to educate parents and also to teach them about Covid-19 and the need to get vaccinations for that.

Health workers and those guiding the campaign face a special challenge during this pandemic. They must deal with Covid-19 while also remembering not to abandon polio, or to give up in any way on the effort to make Pakistan a polio-free country. This is especially important since the number of polio cases had dipped in the past years, but has grown again over the past two years. Polio workers have been equipped with the necessary gear to protect them against transmitting or acquiring the Covid-19 virus, while also being able to reach out to parents and talk to them about polio and its impact.

The reason we have not been able to eradicate polio in Pakistan, while most of the world has been successful in getting rid of it is mainly a lack of awareness in, and cooperation. Polio workers as frontline workers are especially vulnerable as in most cases they are on their own, while navigating the treacherous landscape of hostile areas. Though most parents allow vaccination, still there is a sizable number that refuse the administration of vaccines to their children and infants. This refusal results in the debilitating strike of poliovirus which leaves many children disabled every year. There is a need for an enhanced media campaign to promote and support the anti-polio drive across the country. If we want to ensure a better future for our children, there can be no room for any negligence in this matter. For this reason, it is vital that Pakistan win its battle against polio, and make sure every child can remain free of the disease for life.