Editorial : The polio menace
Poliovirus has been wiped out from all the countries except three – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria have failed to eradicate the poliovirus. Sadly, according to a Pakistan Polio Eradication Program 146 children were crippled with poliovirus in Pakistan in 2019 compelling WHO to enforce travel restrictions. Punjab reported 4 cases, Sindh 16, KPK 14, and Balochistan 6 in 2019.
The decision of extending travel restriction was taken on the recommendations of the Emergency Committee of International Health Regulations. Despite good efforts, the poliovirus escapes extermination due to children missing doses. The population that migrates seasonally across the border should be targetted including those who refuse it in cities due to ignorance.
Cases sprouting in cities point to flaws in the polio eradication strategy. Urban centers of Punjab, Sindh and even Islamabad indicate that there were flaws in the eradication phase. Seems a large number of children were not administered the vaccine due to parental ignorance or weak outreach mechanism of the polio team.
If not eradicated the poliovirus pools in Pakistan and Afghanistan could grow and become a treat to neighboring countries. The government should proactively tackle the polio outbreaks and ensure that we are able to ensure that our children do not become a victim of the virus.
Please share your views on eradicating the poliovirus and reducing the disease burden on the Pakistani population. Pakistan according to WHO is among the top ten countries with the highest burden of tuberculosis, diabetes and other communicable diseases.