On Monday, 25th November, a woman knocked on my door; when I asked her the reason she replied! Please send your children of age under 5 out for polio vaccine. Upon asking the identity; she showed me the ID. 3 children of under 5 year were presented for vaccination. But one of my niece was not there, therefore, she registered her name and moved to next door. Next morning she came back asked for the remaining children, unfortunately my niece was not present again. She came three consecutive days to my house until my niece got vaccinated. I asked about her salary and she told me that it is Rs. 250/day. But I am sure their sincere campaign against Polio eradication deserves countless blessings.
31st December 2012 was a deadline by WHO and Unicef to eradicate Polio virus completely after several extensions since 1988. Poliomyelitis cases have been reduced by more than 99% and now there are only three Polio endemic countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. But one more time they extended the date of Polio eradication because 215 cases were registered.
Pakistan’s Efforts for Polio Eradication:
The global efforts to eradicate polio have suffered devastating setbacks. But only Pakistan has faced serious threats and sacrificed their lady health workers due to lack of social awareness and political instability. Female health workers faced angry community response. That resulted in December 2012, nine health workers were shot dead while travelling from house to house to administer polio vaccine to children during the national anti-polio campaign.
First day of January 2013, was started with six female Pakistani aid workers and a male doctor were shot dead. More than 55% of all Pakistan’s Polio cases were registered in KPK and FATA. And most of the health workers were killed including woman and a young girl of 17 years. Highly affected areas of Pakistan are KPK and FATA, where Polio teams have faced high resistance from community from the threats and fear of Taliban.
June 2012, in FATA, Taliban banned polio vaccination in retaliation for the use of unmannered drones by USA. In result 3.5million Pakistani Children have missed vaccination as a result of the campaign suspension. The suspension and attacks on Polio team deprived most vulnerable children of basic health interventions. These militants not only are creating resistance in KPK and FATA but also in Karachi, the capital city of Sind. Their areas of influence are Godap Town, Landhi, Baldia and Orangi town. Government will have to take some effective steps to stop these militants. Non Registered Afghan refugees are Question mark on the performance of our Central and Provincial Govt. including our intelligence agencies. Thousands of non-registered Afghan refugees have been migrated to Karachi and leaving in the mentioned areas where Polio teams are on target.
In Pakistan many of polio cases are in areas of KPK and FATA where Taliban operates freely according to print media Jindullah Group (Militant wing) in Pakistan have got responsibility to stop Anti-Polio campaign. Just like in Somalia this responsibility was taken by Al-Shabbab. If Pakistan failed to eradicate Polio, WHO may imposed travelling restrictions in future. Recently, on 1st Dec 2013 the militants killed policeman who was guarding an anti-polio vaccination team at Kohat road Peshawar. Most of the Polio workers and children were affected by Militants and Polio are belongs to KPK and the majority are Afghani children affected by Polio. Government will have to stop their unregistered mobilization in the country.
Taliban are spreading rumors that polio vaccine is to make generation of Pakistan impotent. These rumors cause misconception and refusing to vaccinate their children form Polio vaccination. However, it’s 24years of Polio campaign has been passed none of the case was registered yet regarding such rumors. Although Pakistan’s population increasing day by day. The result of such negative propaganda toady our dear homeland has faced more than 200 Polio infected children, which is highly regrettable. Whereas, various trusted Health Organizations, doctors and notable religious Islamic scholars have authentic proofs that Polio vaccine is totally safe and free from many adverse effects. Immunization against Polio in children is a form of preventive treatment which is necessary from the viewpoint of the shari’ah, and several endorsements by Muslims scholars all over the world including Pakistan to eradicate the polio.