Pakistan’s shame

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The menace is still around to shame Pakistan. The Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme’s survey has detected the poliovirus from sewage of 10 cities during January. Those cities are Faisalabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Sukkur, Killa Abdullah, Quetta, DI Khan, Peshawar and South Waziristan.

Poliovirus from the sewage of South-Waziristan has paralyzed a three-month old baby in Hangu and one from Lahore has paralyzed an eight-month child in Lahore. Unvaccinated children in these towns or in their vicinity are vulnerable to this crippling disease.  Danger of other towns being impacted cannot be ruled out due to movement of people.

Afghanistan is the only other country to have reported one case so far.

From more than 300 reported polio virus cases in 2014 to two, this year, so far, the decrease is laudable and could be attributed to coordinated effort and the surveillance of high-risk populations yet it is a shame that Pakistan still remains one of the two countries in grasp of the crippling polio.

While last year it was discouraging to see Karachi a metropolitan city witnessing  a school administration beating a polio team and restricting them from administering polio drops to the children, last week we saw a beaming bearded young fellow being hugged by the prime minister. He was pictured making his way up through waist-high snow-covered hilly track.

According to WHO, polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated more than 350 000 cases to 22 reported cases in 2017. Despite the progress, as long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease.

There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. People working to eradicate polio are of the view that the winter months are the best time to hit the virus. The 8-week window is the low transmission season.

Therefore efforts should be accelerated to reach every child under the age of five besides educating the people about the importance of polio vaccination. So people let’s not relax. If rest of the world can, why can’t we?