The Polio Mess in Balochistan

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The Polio Mess in Balochistan

Editorial: 

As the world marks polio day, the tally of poliovirus cases this year has reached 23 in Balochistan. The latest victims of the crippling virus are children from Quetta and Pishin. A four-year-old minor child tested positive in the Chiltan town area of Quetta and a 15-month old kid tested positive for the virus in Barshore area of Pishin district. The health officials merely shared their ages and areas, preferring not to report reasons behind the kids contracting the crippling virus.

They did not mention that whether the kids were from chronic refusal families or the two cases were the result of the inefficiency of anti-polio officials. Balochistan has reported the highest number of cases i.e 23 across Pakistan. Last year, the province reported 22 cases of the virus. Sindh and KP both have reported 22 poliovirus cases each. Officials associated with anti-polio programs argue that the outbreak of the COVID19 has hampered the routine immunization in the province. Although, Balochistan reported 22 cases of the virus during 2019 when there was no coronavirus outbreak. Overall, this year, Pakistan has reported 79 cases of the crippling virus so far.

Chronic refusals coupled with poor management and inefficiency of anti-polio organizations appear to be the major reasons behind increasing polio cases in the province. The officials always celebrate achieving targets in their communication after every immunization campaign. It has been three decades now that the anti-polio campaign is underway in Balochistan like in other parts of the country.

First of all, all information regarding the anti-polio campaign needs to be shared with media and public. Only then, a joint strategy by the government, EOC, health department, political parties, media and religious scholars can be made to eradicate the crippling virus. Repeated immunization has indeed rattled the trust of many parents.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries still battling to eradicate the poliovirus as the rest of the globe has announced complete eradication. It is irony of fate that Balochistan, which has only 5 percent population in the country reported 23 cases, the highest number. Chief Minister Balochistan, Jam Kamal Khan needs to direct the health officials to re-visit their strategy in terms of polio eradication. A comprehensive and inclusive strategy needs to be evolved to eradicate the crippling virus from the province.

The Polio Mess in Balochistan

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