Pakistan has a polio problem and it is not going away. Efforts to defeat the disease have come close to success in past years but have been thwarted by poor security in remote or tribal areas; or in cities where large areas are controlled by extremist gangsters. Negative propaganda claiming that polio vaccine is an attempt to limit the growth of the global Muslim population is believed by many within a credulous population. The blowback from the false-flag operation involving a Pakistani doctor has also created mistrust and unease. Time after time vaccinators are attacked and frequently killed; most of those dead so far in the last year have been women, many of them little more than teenagers.
The news of the start of a three-day polio drive in Mohmand agency is thus welcome but comes with a frisson of unease. This is to be a ‘big push’. The target is to vaccinate 88,185 children using 365 mobile, 39 fixed and 10 transit teams, possibly as many as 2000 people involved at the grassroots. If ever a collective medal for bravery in the face of the enemy was deserved it is for these poorly paid men and women who go out mostly unprotected in the service of humanity. The state has consistently failed to protect them in the past which is why so many have been murdered. Going into the field in the remote and lawless Mohmand agency really is taking your life in your hands, yet it is here in an unvaccinated population that children are most at risk. The polio vaccination team nationwide, not just in Mohmand, put their lives on the line in the service of the state; and the very least the state could do would be to pull out the stops for them security wise. A polio-free Pakistan is not an impossible dream. Protect these unsung heroes and let a dream be turned into reality.
(Courtesy: The News)