Polio panic

Nation that fails itself

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There are two more cases of polio; one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the other in Balochistan. And we are already losing the count. The number of affected children has gone up to the mid fifties for the first time since 2015 when due to some concerted efforts by the then government and the international donors we were able to bring the number of cases significantly down.

We often hear Pakistan is the only third country beside Afghanistan and Nigeria that has this virus. Well, Nigeria, as war torn as it may be, has been able to wrest itself away from the infamous trio and now it is only Afghanistan that is keeping Pakistan company in this regard.

Last week, the prime minister called a high-level meeting on this issue and called for measures to ensure administration of polio drops across the board. Babar bin Atta, the focal person for the PM was also confident in his television interviews of reaching out in areas that are the most affected. The KP government even managed to bring that Peshawar guy, who had staged a drama in a hospital where student dropped unconscious en masse due to ‘bad’ drops, to say he was ashamed of his past behavior and that polio drops were beneficial for children.

Still the mindset needs some more work. Clerics and religiously conservative people are sceptical of these drops since long and they have been advocating against the polio campaigns. Miscreants have been benefiting from this confusion and many polio workers have been killed in the line of duty.

Besides there were reports that many remote areas remained unreached and polio staff filled out forms without visiting certain areas. The numbers this year are alarmingly high and no excuse should be accepted. The government should hold people in responsible position to account. This accountability is as important as the financial accountability. Or the world will stop receiving us at their airports one more time.