Let’s make Pakistan polio free

Published: January 24, 2012
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India is a recent example where no new polio case have been reported and the World Health Organization is considering declaring India a polio free country. PHOTO: AFP

With all this talk of anti-polio vaccination drives, I feel it is important to educate people about this disease.

What is polio?

Polio is a viral disease which can affect the spinal cord, causing muscle weakness and paralysis. The polio virus enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with the stool of an infected person. This virus is more common in infants and young children, and occurs under conditions of poor hygiene.

Paralysis is prevalent and more severe when the infection occurs in older individuals. Polio spreads when the stool of an infected person is introduced into the mouth of another person through contaminated water or food (fecal-oral transmission). Oral transmission by way of an infected person’s saliva may account for some cases. Maintaining high levels of polio immunisation in society is the most helpful precautionary measure.

Pakistan and the rest of the world

Globally, a lot of work is being done to eradicate polio from all parts of the world, and in most countries no new polio cases have been reported.  These countries are now declared polio free. India is a recent example where no new polio case were reported last year, and the World Health Organisation is considering declaring India a polio free country.

This is good news for the region, and now it is Pakistan’s turn to get serious about the eradication of this menace. Polio is an epidemic and its virus travels fast. Thus, a patient suffering from polio is hazardous to the surroundings too. For the long-term safety of India from this endemic, it is advisable that the government of India also cooperate with Pakistan for polio’s eradication. Both countries should work jointly for a polio free Pakistan in the coming years.

In addition to this, we should remove misgivings about polio drops prevailing in the country and ensure that teams administering polio drops reach all parts of the country. A recent statement by Sindh’s provincial health minister highlighted the fact that polio exists in Pakistan because children are undernourished. This height of illiteracy has led to the sad state of affairs of our country. A country which is the fifth largest milk producer in the world, one of the largest exporter of rice and also self sufficient in many other agriculture products can’t even feed its nation properly.

Here’s how

  • The five countries where polio exists all have low per capita income so we need to put pressure on the government to increase the per capita income of our people
  • Proper food should be provided to children so as to give every child a nutritious diet
  • School food programs should be introduced in schools operating in rural areas. These programs should also be monitored strictly to enhance children’s nutritional level
  • It should be made mandatory for members of legislative bodies to make serious efforts in their respective areas for polio eradication. If a polio case is detected in a constituency then membership of that legislator should be temporarily suspended
  • The task of administering polio drops should be given to trained personnel
  • Special incentives should be given to people of those districts where no polio case is reported for a considerable duration

Today, polio has been eradicated in most countries.  It only exists in five countries of the world and sadly Pakistan is one of them. Our country has a population of 180 million whereas India’s population is more than 1 billion. If they can become polio free, we can too. We need to take this as a challenge and cohesively work towards polio eradication.

Khurram Zia Khan

Khurram Zia Khan

The writer is the media manager of Asiatic Public Relations and tweets @KhurramZiaKhan (twitter.com/KhurramZiaKhan)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ashish

    Why compare everytime with India ? Also it is not good to expect help from other nations and in turn do not acknowledge the favour or pretend to be not a friend of that nation.
    It will be good if the politicians understand the need of friendship with other countries and live in peace and harmony. Finally nothing will be gained by hatred and animosity. The region can become as strong as EU if relations become normal.
    We must accept our negatives , work towards its betterment and help others with our positives.Recommend

  • Liberal

    No, i prefer waxing on about democracy, institutional clashes, strategic depth, and secularism. That’s it, only secularism can cure polio.Recommend

  • http://kziakhan.blogspot.com Khurram Zia Khan

    Ashish comparison in this article with India is not to undermine India, in fact I was trying to praise efforts of India’s government,NGOs & other institution with regards to polio eradication.Also we are in the same region so it is good to have a polio free region as polio virus travel from one place to another..

    I wish all regional countries work cohesively to make South Asia a polio free regionRecommend

  • amlendu

    @Khurram Zia Khan:
    You are right. The comparison here is in a very positive sense and this is how we should compare our nations, to take inspiration from each other and try to out do each other in providing basic necessities to our citizens. Moreover India till few years back was seen to be losing the war on Polio. If India can defeat polio Pakistan also can do it. A polio free Pakistan will be good for whole world and any help (From expertise in mass immunization, strategic, material to more effective vaccine suitable for our environment) should be sought from and be given by India. Recommend

  • vasan

    What is the involvement of Rotary clubs in Pakistan in this Pulse Polio Immunisation programs ?. In India, when pulse polio immunisation started about 7/8 years ago. the Rotary clubs and rotarians were heavily involved along with Primary Health Centres to immunise every child in the immunisation centres, public places like busstands, railway stations etc. It was very intensive in the initial few years from the Rotary point of view and then the Indian govt slowly got involved fully, Though the govt funded the maximum. the Rotarians did a fantastic job. Infact the Chairman of this program, a friend of mine and from my hometown in Tamilnadu, was appointed as a Consultant to a few countries in Africa for this program. I am sure Indian Rotary clubs will be more than willing to help, if asked for.Recommend

  • Ashish

    @Khurram Zia Khan: Try to understand. I myself am for the best relations between the two countries. Infact sometimes I think of a dream of breaking the “Berlin Wall “,which may not be possible. I also agree that you have portrayed India in a good sense. Infact many of my virtual friends are from Pakistan. Some of them , I met when I was in Oman on job.
    I am unable to understand why , when we are so much similar , why we are so much apart.
    My intention was not to point out fingers at you , but to express myself to people from both side , who have problems with each other. Recommend

  • Ashok

    Excellent post Mr. Khurram Zia Khan – yes I agree that India should help Pakistan as much as possible in this regard. Also, both nations need to come together and develop safe and reliable sewage systems throughout the Indian subcontinent so that future cities can be built in a planned fashion where hygiene problems will not be as awful as they are now.Recommend

  • moazzam khan

    Very good thoughts by all of you. I personally think that we as Pakistanis have developed a habit of leaving everything on the government. We all know that they are non serious and corrupt people who fill their own pockets left and right and then disappear for a while and then come back in power to further rip of the country. So we need to do as much as we can on our own. What Vasan pointed out is absolutely correct. Rotary, NGO’s and citizens of Pakistan can also contribute and brainstorm together in how to get rid of Polio completely from Pakistan.Recommend

  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan

    Waheguru bless you in your efforts. A polio free Pakistan would be a great tribute to the people who lead a deformed life and died of it. We will do it togather. Bless you for your concerns, rab rakha. We used to have some cases in Calcutta here but no more. I wish we could eradicate malaria now. Rab rakha. Salaam, cheerio.Recommend

  • Fox

    I commend this article for contributing to the campaign to make the public aware of this debilitating virus by elevating the dialogue. The acknowledgement of the negative correlation that exists between per capita income and incidents of polio is important to note. Aspects of hunger and awareness of threatening diseases like Polio merge when you consider how a person living with the basics should distribute their resources. The lack of awareness on the matter is key and it should be prioritized by a respectable organization focused only on applying pressure on representatives to make pledges to eradicate incidents of polio within their term. Recommend

  • http://www.ghazalalegalclinic.com Ghazala Awan

    very well compiled and presented.Public needs this sort of information on the subject. Looking forward more articles to read from you.Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/SyedOsmanNaeem Syed Osman Naeem

    Eradicating a disease is hard, slow, painstaking work. We can’t circle a year on the calendar and say we’ll end polio by this date or that date. That sets us up for failure. Because even steady progress can feel like it’s not enough if you miss an arbitrary deadline.

    I am enclosing Bill Gates Rotary Polio Speech [I was in a slum in East Delhi, and I held a nine month old girl named Hashmin in my arms. My dad and my sisters were with me, and we talked to Hashmin’s mother in the courtyard outside her home. Hashmin was dressed in a beautiful bright orange dress. She obviously didn’t understand why people were poking her legs and looking so serious. But she’ll never be able to kick a ball around, never be able to play hide and seek with her friends, because she has polio.As I held Hashmin, I thought, We can end this.
    Hashmin, the baby I met, had been immunized. But she still got polio, because she lived in one of those areas where children need many doses of the vaccine.]

    Immunized every children of the country not only one time, it should be repeated thrice a year until the child step into age 6.

    Spread the idea. Spread the meme. Ending polio is possible. Ending polio should be our goal. Tell your friends. Share on Facebook and Twitter and email.Recommend

  • Farhan

    The article is comprehensive and it clearly stated facts as they are. Our indian friends have also overlooked the perceived difference of opinions that emerged from the comments of Mr Ashish.

    It is a fact that most of us love to compare Pakistan and India, instead of comparing neighbours in futile things, its better to compare and commend so that one can learn from other.Recommend

  • Muttahir Ahmed Khan

    Good to see different aspacts covered. State can not be of any use keeping in view our state historyRecommend

  • rk

    Polio sucksssss………..india rocks….Recommend

  • zia Zuberi

    Very good article.Keep it up Khurram. A lot of things explained and good suggesstions tooRecommend