With a new government promising a brand new Pakistan, the question is whether we will be able to finally eliminate polio from the country. Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiar has stepped up and made the bold promise to eliminate polio from Pakistan by 2019. Such promises have been made before but Pakistan remains one of the only two countries in the world where polio exists. This is despite billions being poured into the National Polio Eradication programme and multiple polio vaccination drives organised in the country each year.
Our polio eradication campaigns – and campaigners – continue to face challenges that they do not in other countries. The threat of terrorism still looms over every polio eradication campaign in the country as malicious propaganda against these drives remains a part of what polio vaccinators have to deal with when in the field. The government’s top planning body, the Central Development Working Party (CDWP), has approved a revision of Pakistan’s $968 million polio eradication programme. The revisions are over the last one-third of the programme which is expected to continue until 2021. The committee expects that the plan will lead to the elimination of polio by the end of this year, while it would need around two more years of follow-up programmes to ensure the country is polio-free.