By Khalid Khattak
As the world marks World Polio Day on Oct.24, polio remains endemic in two countries only, Pakistan and Afghanistan, both neighbors.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the two countries face a range of challenges such as “insecurity, weak health systems and poor sanitation” vis-à-vis efforts to eradicate polio.
The challenges are indeed many. According to different reports there are more than 35 million children under the age of five in Pakistan.
Pakistan had witnessed a whopping increase in the number of polio cases in 2014 when the number reached 306 as against 93 cases recorded in 2013. The following chart explains polio cases in Pakistan from 2009 to 2015.
Now in 2015 the number of polio cases are all time low since 2009. But does this mean Pakistan is going to be a polio-free country soon?
“World Polio Day gives us an opportunity to renew our pledge to work with more dedication. Given its implication on our image in the comity of nation, it is not just for one organisation and institution to undertake the task, it is now responsibility of everyone in the country” says Punjab Health Director General Dr Zahid Pervaiz.
The data analysis of the years from 2009 to 2015 clearly implies that the situation can aggravate anytime because of multiple issues which could be security for the immunization teams and sanitation system as highlighted by the WHO. Nonetheless there are issues related to awareness and lack of strong monitoring mechanism and poor quality of drops administered to the children too which could prove as impediments in a successful drive to eradicate polio from Pakistan forever.
Photo credit: End Polio Pakistan