Dreadful disease

Discard what is not working




They say when it rains, it pours. In the monsoon season when the rains are virtually wreaking havoc across the length and breadth of the country, there are many shames for the nation that are competing to get to the top of the chart. One such is the staggeringly high number of polio cases that have been reported so far from all four corners of the country.

There are as many as 53 cases that have been reported so far. This is higher than the expected number for the whole year. Forty one of these cases are from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Meanwhile, Punjab has five cases, including three from Lahore; Balochistan has four; and Sindh has three.

While polio has been literally eliminated in other parts of the world, Pakistan is one of only three countries that still contains the virus; the other two being Nigeria and Afghanistan.

In 2018, eight cases of polio were recorded in KP. In contrast, Balochistan had three cases; Sindh had one; and Punjab had none. In 2017, the statistics were even better; giving the country and international community helping with the eradication of the deadly virus hope that country would be rid of the menace once and for all. But that was not to be.

One major reason for the high incidence of polio cases is the negative perception bordering on apprehension about the vaccine. Resultantly, Peshawar employed the most bizarre way of creating panic among the community and attempting to disrupt the campaign a few months ago. Protesters stormed a hospital in Peshawar’s Masho Khel area and set it on fire as a reaction to the ‘faulty’ polio vaccine.

There is a dire need to address the concerns of some sections of the society particularly in KP and Balochistan and parts of Karachi. It is clear now that the approach adopted so far in raising awareness about the disease and utility of the anti-polio vaccine has not worked. This is corroborated by the increasing number of cases in the country. There is a need for rethink among those responsible.