The fight against polio does not get easier with time, as the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is still struggling to convince parents to administer the vaccine to their children without resistance. Health workers in the province have claimed that they are forced by people to show their children as ‘vaccinated’ in the record without administering them the vaccine. The district administration on the other hand has claimed to have reduced refusal cases by parents against polio vaccination.

The workers are forced to apply blue ink on the fingernail of the left hand of the child out of fear of parents who intimidate them and want to avoid arrest by police. In a disturbing event that occurred recently, a person aimed a pistol at a health worker, who was trying to vaccinate children in Yakatoot. These are acts of criminal negligence on the part of parents, too caught up in their own myopic religious and social notions that they would risk crippling their children.

According to the district administration, the involvement of community has been monumental in reducing the number of refusal cases. Last year, Peshawar had 10,000 refusal cases, which have now been reduced to less than a 1,000. The threat of polio in KP is very tangible as environmental sample collected from sewerage of 17 union councils had been tested positive for poliovirus. The formation of committees of religious scholars, elected people from the community and health officials, who interacted with parents to make them aware of the significance of vaccination and address other misconceptions held by people, has been especially helpful. Similar tactics should be deployed in all provinces to ensure that even the children in areas with limited access are protected against this easily preventable disease.