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Escalating Research Science Magazine ISSN 2308-0086

Volume 2 issue 4 December 2013

FAILURE OF POLIO ERADICATION IN PAKISTAN


Dr. Atif Mahmood, Ms. Abira Aftab
Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical College, Lyari, Karachi
Corresponding author Email: atif_mahmood20@yahoo.com

The 20th century ranked polio amongst the effectiveness of vaccine. Also the bad law
most feared diseases throughout the globe. and order situation in different parts of the
According to reports of WHO, polio is now city can affect the polio campaign in a
endemic in only three countries of world negative way. Geography and transport
which includes Pakistan, Afghanistan and infrastructure are highly favorable for the
Nigeria. Wild polio virus strains are found in polio campaign in Karachi whereas lack of
the some parts of Pakistan that includes knowledge and awareness amongst polio
some areas of Karachi, FATA, KPK and workers can be the reason for the failure of
Baluchistan. The three areas mentioned the polio campaign so far.
above are different from each other on the Baluchistan, being most under privileged
grounds of demographics, geography, and under developed province of country
climate, geo-political situation and to some has been facing failure in polio eradication
extent in culture and rituals too. So, these program due to many reasons. The most
three areas should be considered separately, important can be the cross border migration
to help us understand the situation of polio between Pakistan and Afghanistan. As, both
in the country. the countries are polio endemic and
Karachi is one of the most densely considering the fact that the transmission of
populated cities of the world. The city virus becomes highly efficient in crowded
comprises a metropolitan population in and poor sanitation areas, this becomes a
which a large chunk is literate and is fully huge problem increasing the overall burden
exposed to the vibrancy of electronic and of the disease in the both the countries.
print media. The literacy rate of the city is According to unofficial statistics,
79% which include it in the list of top approximately 4 million refugees occupy the
ranked literate areas in the country. loosely governed western border (more so in
Geographically, it is a plain area with a Baluchistan), and they move between the
highly developed transport infrastructure. It two countries quite comfortably and
tends to have a warm, tropical arid climate frequently. The Institute of Strategic Studies
with a low precipitation level. It can be Islamabad (ISSI) has stated that the
estimated that the major hurdle encountered migration has increased so much that now
in Karachi with regards to polio eradication the number of afghan refugees is much
can be a large crowd living in the city with greater than the local population in the
different religious values and ethnicity. The province which has perplexed the political
warm climate of the city can also cause the situation of Baluchistan even more. The
disruption of cold chains required for the regions now dominated by the tribal leaders

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© Advance Educational Institute & Research Centre
www.aeirc-edu.com
Escalating Research Science Magazine ISSN 2308-0086
Volume 2 issue 4 December 2013

rather than political institutions. The these areas also caused a lot of damage to
relevance of this discussion is that the tribal the cause and halted the campaign. The
leaders favor a conservative approach difficult geography, harsh weather, low
towards religion and social values and don’t literacy rates, deprivation of population from
allow women to take part in polio electronic and print media, cross border
campaigns. Furthermore, drone attacks migration between Pakistan and
leading to anti-west approach and low Afghanistan, poor infrastructure conditions,
literacy levels make the tribal leaders growing talibanization, and conservative
believe that infertility causing drugs are political and religious approach in masses of
mixed in the polio vaccine. The bad law and the area is like adding insult to the injury. In
order situation in the province and military addition, the concept that health campaigns
operations also add up to the problem and similar to polio campaign are being used to
greatly reduces the accessibility to many locate the terrorists and their training centers
areas. In 2012, the anti-polio campaign in has created an aversion among masses
the province was halted by the government towards such campaigns and has produced
due to security reasons. The growing lot of reaction against it as well. The
talibanization in the province also create dominance of tribal leaders and lack of
serious hurdles in completion our motive proper religious guidance promotes the
against polio. Geographically the area is thinking that it is non-Islamic to have polio
predominated by mountains and hills and vaccination also greatly contributes to the
poor infrastructure increases the hurdles in failure. The KPK is the most effected
the accessibility. Baluchistan experiences province in Pakistan at present particularly
hot summers which can also affect the cold due to the killing of polio workers. As a
chain for vaccines. The province has a low result many children have missed their
literacy rate of 41% and also has limited routine vaccination in recent times which is
access towards print and electronic media contrast to other provinces in the country
which directly harms their awareness for the where at least this has not been the situation
disease. The areas which are still under so far.
threat of polio endemic include some parts Analyzing and reviewing the whole scenario
of Quetta, Pishin and Killla Abdullah. prevailing in the country, we can summarize
The areas of KPK and FATA where some common problems. The foremost
still cases with polio virus are found are problem is the poor sanitization conditions
Bajur agency, Khyber agency, Swat and in the country, which provides an excellent
Mahmund agency. These areas are medium for growth and transmission of the
continuously under terrorist attacks and virus. The overwhelming growth of the
military operation which renders them a population with worst fiscal scenario and
difficult region to make progress in the dearth of resources for the existing and ever
campaign. The killing of polio workers in increasing population has somehow also

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© Advance Educational Institute & Research Centre
www.aeirc-edu.com
Escalating Research Science Magazine ISSN 2308-0086
Volume 2 issue 4 December 2013

been responsible. The allocation of 0.6 to eradication plan. It should be realized


1.19% of GDP and 5.1 to 11.6% of total amongst the masses that polio is no longer
expenditure for health is definitely not an issue in any of the western countries, and
enough to meet the growing health issues it is us who will be suffering from the
including polio. The lack of communication disease as a result of failure of the
between different religious sects and campaign. Moreover, local leaders,
ethnicity has also increased the issues. The respected and important people of society,
conservative and extremist approach and religious scholars should be encouraged,
towards women in tribal areas, wrong informed and engaged in the campaign and
approach and false interpretations of the they should be awarded some honorary or
religious sayings has somehow lead to or temporary post or slot in the campaign
resulted into killing of polio workers in which will surely help people to own the
KPK. Growing hatred for the western problem and the campaign too. Different
nations proves to be catastrophic for the religious and ethnic groups should be
motto as this campaign is mainly dominated gathered to sort out their problems towards
by west. Worst law and order situation in the the campaign. The experience of China and
country also tends to discourage the especially of India can be used as it shares a
campaign. Lower literacy rates and lack of lot of common grounds with us. In addition,
awareness creates a non-serious attitude in there is a must need of improvement in
public which also causes harm. Pakistan has literacy rate, sanitizing condition and
been spending more on security than health, awareness amongst the polio workers to
agriculture or for that matter any other avoid more harm. A fool proof security
sector. Areas occupied by terrorist and should be provided to polio workers by the
extremist also causes shameful incidence for government in the threatened areas to avoid
the country. any more accidents.
Presence of polio is a shame and To save our next generations from polio, it
alarming situation for us as a nation. It is highly important for us to start fighting
reflects our non-serious attitude towards against this disease and play our roles in
basic human needs and problem. It raises a declaring Pakistan polio free country.
lot of questions on our health system and the
seriousness of our govt. towards the real
issues of masses. It is a high time for all of REFERENCES:
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Addressing the challenge of violence
country should try to vanish the feeling of a in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and
‘western campaign’ from the polio

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© Advance Educational Institute & Research Centre
www.aeirc-edu.com
Escalating Research Science Magazine ISSN 2308-0086
Volume 2 issue 4 December 2013

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