Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) is deeply concerned over the grave epidemiological situation on polio cases. Pakistan has more than 80% of total global polio cases this year. This year 88 cases have been reported till now which is very much disturbing. First time Pakistan’s political issues were discussed at a global health forum. This is very unfortunate that the International Monitoring Board (IMB) has declared the Polio program and the importance of delivering polio Vaccine has become a “Political Football” in the country. It observed that there is lack of political unity behind polio resurgence in the country.
The increase of polio cases in Pakistan is very disturbing and alarming. Our Polio program has deteriorated; just last year polio program seemed to be on the brink of eradicating wild polio virus transmission. The number of wild polio virus cases stood at 77 in Pakistan and at 19 in Afghanistan on Oct 29, 2019. The corresponding figures for the same time in 2018 were six for Pakistan and 19 for Afghanistan.
According to the most recent report of IMB made a searing and devastating condemnation of the state of polio transmission in Pakistan. The report also mentioned that at the IMB meeting in October 2019, there could not have been a starker contrast between the Nigerian and Pakistan government delegation, both groups were led by Health ministers But Nigerian delegation included all three chairman of the health committees in the House of Representatives and the senate, who were from different political parties. This shows that there is lack of political unity behind polio resurgence in the country.
PMA has been expressing and guiding the government to work with all stakeholders, political parties and Religious leaders to eliminate polio from the country. We strongly suggest the government to form a special Joint committee of the Parliament on Polio and members from all the political parties should be included in the committee.
PMA believes that a massive awareness campaign through print, electronic and social media should be initiated. Government will have to run a strong campaign to let people know what polio is and what its consequences are. People should be made aware of the importance of polio vaccine, they should particularly be convince that vaccine is very effective for the eradication of polio and it is absolutely not harmful in any way, remove all the misconceptions about the polio drops from the public minds.
The message should go to public with such clarity that they themselves take their children to vaccine centers for polio drops instead of doing polio campaigns. Political / Religious Leaders, NGOs, Teachers and Family Physicians all can play their due role in eradication of polio virus from Pakistan.