The news of a children in Chaman and Dera Bugti contracting polio, in Balochistan after three years, is a damning indictment of the provincial health department and donor agencies entrusted with this critical public health mission. While a targeted vaccination campaign is a welcome response, it’s a mere bandage on a gaping wound.

Imported Solutions Don’t Work

For far too long, a top-down approach relying on imported solutions has dominated our fight against polio. We, the people of Balochistan, have the indigenous knowledge and cultural understanding necessary to effectively combat this disease. Yet, our voices and workable solutions are consistently sidelined.

The presence of poliovirus in environmental samples since last August is a glaring failure of our health department. This isn’t just a recent oversight; it exposes a systemic weakness in surveillance and outreach programs.

Where are the culturally sensitive campaigns that educate our communities in the local languages? Where are the efforts to address vaccine hesitancy through dialogue and trust-building with local leaders? We need an overhaul of the health department’s approach, one that leverages the strengths of our communities and fosters ownership over public health initiatives.

Donor agencies must also shoulder some of the blame

Have they critically evaluated the effectiveness of their funding, or have they simply perpetuated a cycle of dependence on external solutions? We urge them to invest in building the capacity of our local healthcare system and empower Balochistanis to take charge of their health outcomes.

The upcoming vaccination campaign is crucial, but it cannot be a one-off effort. We need a sustained, multi-pronged approach that integrates local knowledge, strengthens healthcare infrastructure, and prioritizes community engagement. Only then can we truly eradicate polio from Balochistan and safeguard the health of future generations.

This is a wake-up call. Let Balochistan not be known for this resurgence of a preventable disease. Let’s work together, with our own solutions at the forefront, to banish polio for good.

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Quetta Voice is an English Daily covering all unfolding political, economic and social issues relating to Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province in terms of area. QV's main focus is on stories related to education, promotion of quality education and publishing reports about out of school children in the province. QV has also a vigilant eye on health, climate change and other key sectors.