Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world with ongoing wild poliovirus transmission, alongside Afghanistan and Nigeria. In 2019, the tally of polio cases has raised to 53 after five more polio cases have surfaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (PK). It is a shame that our children become victims of this disease even in these times when an adequate vaccine is available.

Who is to blame for the sudden rise in polio cases? Is the government responsible for being unable to vaccinate the kids? Or parents are to be blamed as Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta maintains. But the words of Babar contradict his previous explanation for the resurgence of the disease. Earlier, the focal person had confessed that polio eradication teams were involved in data manipulation to show better performance. Now he’s blaming the parents.

It is also true that the attitude of some of the parents towards polio vaccination teams is also problematic. They do not allow their children to be vaccinated. Especially in KP, parents have become increasingly hostile towards polio workers after the Peshawar incident – which proved to be false propaganda against vaccination exercise – in April this year. People still believe in that false propaganda even when they hear or read about one after another polio case.

Nevertheless, the rate with which polio is returning in the country is alarming. The fight against polio needs a multi-pronged strategy. Before anything else, the state needs to ensure that parents allow their children to be vaccinated. And if need be the state should punish those who scam vaccination teams.

Moreover, officials need to do what is necessary to kill the virus that has been detected from the sewage of eight cities across the country. Awareness, penalties against those who refuse to vaccinate their kids and monitoring of polio teams to bar them from tampering with data can help the state in eradicating the disease once and for all.