The polio epidemic in the country is on the rise once again with 12 cases of polio reported in just 39 days of the first year. This means that the crippling disease finds a new victim almost every third day. The government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) was extensively involved in the criticism against the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government’s polio eradication programme. This was despite the fact that the last polio eradication programme was highly effective in bringing down the numbers of people who contracted the virus. While PTI was quick at pointing out that the programme lacked the vision to eradicate the virus altogether, they were not able to sustain what the previous government was already doing - a criticism that is usually associated with the party.

The last policy, except for the eradication of the presence of the virus in the country, was quite wholesome. It included awareness campaigns, along with strict monitoring of parents so that no one skipped vaccinating their children based on misconceptions. The work this year seems to be absent especially with regards to the strict enforcement of the vaccination. This not just impacts the domestic scenario of Pakistan but also puts us in trouble internationally. Due to the primitive virus still being present in the country, our travellers need to get health certificates. With congo and coronaviruses making their way to Pakistan, a health emergency would need to be declared. With provinces like Sindh facing a severe health crisis due to a lack of availability of medicines and vaccinations, the problem can get worse for the country.

The lives of polio workers are also at risk despite a grave understanding of how misconceptions threaten their lives. The government should investigate the matter and penalise those responsible for not taking charge of the situation. Health concerns in the country cannot go unnoticed. The government needs to assemble special units to deal with pressing health issues in the country. Only last year a lot of lives were lost due to the dengue fever as well, and the government responded by dismissing District Commissioner Saleha Saeed from service as a result. Such ad-hoc measures leave the country plagued with problems, leaving less understanding of how it manifested, and how the current set up can be used to improve the outputs being performed.

The issue right now is concentred in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Sindh. Both provincial governments need to mobilise to coordinate with the federal government in order to tackle the situation. Such tasks can only be performed due to a collaborative effort between the centre and the provinces. The government should see this as an opportunity to work alongside the opposition to streamline issues along with bridging the gap between the two sides.