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Pakistan's failure to eliminate polio reflects acute lack of commitment

ANI | Updated: Jul 03, 2022 10:47 IST


Washington [US], July 3 (ANI): Pakistan's failure to eliminate polio reflects the acute lack of commitment and obligation on the part of the government and society toward saving children from the menace of this devastating disease.
Despite receiving substantial foreign funding and carrying out several campaigns for countering polio over the years, there have been some serious lapses in the state's efforts to address this pernicious health problem, reported Global Start View.
Moreover, despite numerous supplementary immunization campaigns, the failures in Pakistan's polio eradication campaigns are now obscuring the global scenario for a polio-free world.
The problem is rooted in financial and organizational deficits, as well as active conflict and insecurity, which has caused the persistent failure of effective immunization campaigns in the country.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have faced significant security challenges along the border, including targeted attacks on polio workers and security guards and an absolute ban on polio immunization in certain areas. Diffidence in the region is often listed as a significant hindrance to polio eradication, reported Global Start View.
Many polio workers and security personnel have lost their lives in the past years during polio vaccination campaigns, and such incidents have been one of the major reasons that polio is still endemic in Pakistan.
According to media reports, as many as 70 polio workers have been killed in terrorist attacks since 2012, mainly in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, reported Global Strat View.
The year 2012 marked the commencement of a series of violent attacks against polio workers across Pakistan, beginning in July 2012 and continuing until today.
The victims of these attacks include frontline workers, international consultants, program staff, and even police officers providing security. Polio transmission is highly active in certain core districts of Pakistan, including Karachi (Sindh), Peshawar (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), and the Quetta block in Balochistan.

Polio cases have also been identified in northern Sindh and Southern Punjab. A large proportion of cases are among Pashto-speaking populations.
As the attacks on polio workers, doctors, and security forces intensify, Pakistan is falling into the cruel grip of the polio virus, reported Global Strat View.
Pakistan officials reported an eighth wild poliovirus case of 2022 on June 3. This most recent case is a 20-month-old boy paralyzed by wild polio.
"Following the first two cases in April, the polio programme took immediate steps to ring-fence this area and prevent the virus from spreading further, particularly in the historic reservoirs of Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta. Pakistan has made tremendous success against polio over the past few years, and we are taking all steps to protect the gains made by the programme," claimed Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel.
Pakistan is one of two countries, together with neighboring Afghanistan, where polio is still endemic, though case numbers have dropped drastically in recent years. However, Nigeria, the third country on the list, officially eradicated wild polio in 2020.
Pakistani Taliban have long been the country's most prominent resistance to the polio vaccination drive. The reasons for their opposition are bizarre. Some say it aims to sterilize Muslims. The Taliban have repeatedly threatened health workers involved in the campaign. Some said they received calls telling them to stop working with "infidels" just before the attacks.
Moreover, in reply to the misconception about vaccines being incompatible with the Islamic Shariah Law, the Islamic Advisory Group (IAG) adopted a new anti-polio action plan incorporating advocacy and communication activities in 2015, reported Global Strat View.
Interestingly, in many cases, the family members show reluctance towards vaccination. Most parents refuse to administer polio drops to their children due to misapprehension about the vaccine. They believe that it will harm or sterilize their children.
Such discernments are prevalent in certain areas of the tribal regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Parents mainly refuse to immunize their children due to a lack of awareness, doubts regarding vaccine quality, misunderstandings related to vaccination, and low confidence in vaccinators, reported Global Strat View. (ANI)

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