Almost 39 million kids have been vaccinated against poliovirus during a nationwide immunisation campaign from September 21 to 25. The entire team of Pakistan Polio Eradication deserves appreciation as the drive concluded successfully despite all kinds of challenges that COVID further exacerbated. But the government needs to understand that the virus is still very much active in the country. It must work hard to eradicate the crippling disease and make Pakistan free from polio.

Only this year, 74 Wild Type Poliovirus (WPV) and 64 circulating vaccines derived poliovirus (cVDPV2) polio cases have been recorded so far. The numbers will go up. The government must devise a strategy to bring down the figure to single digits next year. Last year too, Pakistan registered 140 plus polio cases. This is not acceptable. Bringing the cases down to a single digit is not an impossible task at all. Previous governments had succeeded in reducing the number of affected kids.

The current strategy of aggressive vaccinating is what we need. This is one crucial way of keeping our children safe from poliovirus. However, just a one-time campaign on this scale is not enough to defeat the crippling disease. The government should keep at it. The authorities must keep a thorough track of the situation and monitor the ongoing progress against poliovirus through data just like we have been doing on coronavirus.

Likewise, the health officials must identify areas according to the risk they present, especially the ones that make core reservoir districts. They must devise risk-appropriate eradication strategies for containing the spread in these areas. One easy way to contain the virus is to improve the poor hygiene and sewage system in these areas. Most of these regions are the already marginalised ones where awareness about the deadly effects of the disease is almost always poor. Therefore, the government must ensure that these cities are not left under-immunised in future vaccination drives.