Another four cases of polio in Balochistan underline the need to refocus on the urgency of the polio threat in Pakistan. This year’s vaccination efforts have been completely derailed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the extended lockdowns. Our collective focus has been understandably diverted, but another round of cases is cause enough to take stock of what we stand to lose if we don’t look to stop the spread of poliovirus in Pakistan. Put simply, this is the fate of future generations, which must be protected from a disease which is quite easily preventable.

The rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases is evidence of the seriousness of this threat, but polio and associated cases are a health crisis in themselves, even though we have scarcely treated them as such. The closest we ever came to eliminating polio from Pakistan was a few years ago now, and things have only gone downhill since. As ever, the infrequency of vaccination drives, missing out on regular visits to certain areas, and above all, refusals from parents are always the stumbling blocks in preventing the spread.

The government has often asserted that stronger action will be taken against parents, but this has yet to be seen carried out uniformly. Awareness drives are also few and far in between.

What the pandemic has taught us is that the entire country can get behind a national health crisis if the government mobilises all of its efforts and provides necessary information to people through all avenues available. If other health issues were brought in front of the public with the same earnestness, there will be a more galvanised response. The model is there; now that the lockdown is over, vaccination drives must be reinitiated. The key difference this time, must be in how we approach the problem; only through concerted efforts can we win this time.