PRIME Minister Shehbaz Sharif kicked off a three day nationwide polio eradication campaign by administering polio drops to children at a ceremony in Islamabad on Sunday.
Over forty four million children are reported to be administered anti-polio drops during the campaign. There is no denying that Pakistan has made major strides against polio.
Its commitment is also reflective from the vaccination campaigns that are regularly held across the country.
The polio workers really deserve applause for their unwavering commitment to the cause of polio-free Pakistan for which they also rendered their lives.
The support extended by the UN Agencies and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also appreciable.
Because of these efforts, Pakistan was very close to become completely polio free but then suddenly cases started emerging from the tribal areas last year.
20 cases were reported last year but fortunately the virus was restricted to the tribal districts.
The emergence of polio cases in tribal districts is a clear indication that families there are still reluctant to get their children vaccinated against this crippling disease.
Some vaccine fanatics falsely reported the vaccination of their unvaccinated children, letting the government believe that their campaign is going smoothly.
In such kind of situation, there is a dire need to ensure complete monitoring of vaccination, especially in the tribal districts.
Tribal elders and religious scholars of the area need to be taken on board to remove the myth surrounding the vaccine including that the children may lose fertility because of it.
There have been numerous incidents in which polio workers have been killed due to people’s misconception about the polio vaccine.
It is, therefore, essential that the health services of Pakistan take proper measures not just to ensure the safety of polio workers but also to spread awareness among the people regarding the importance of vaccination.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where polio continues to cripple children as its virus affects the nervous system of the children ultimately leading to paralysis.
This virus is a black spot on our face and there is no need to show any laxity until it is completely eradicated. We have to ensure a safe future for our children at all costs.