The indignity with which Pakistan’s polio programme has been operating becomes transparent when it is one of the only two countries in the world to have failed to contain the disease—a war-torn Afghanistan being the other. Given the fortunate position that Pakistan holds in comparison, no justification outside of complacency and mismanagement can be given for the 58 reported polio cases across the nation—21 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 20 from Sindh, 14 from Balochistan and 4 from Punjab.

Punjab has been a province that had not reported a single case of Polio in the last 8 years—a fact regretfully altered within the last few months. In fact, polio virus type 2, the most dangerous and infectious kind, has also re-emerged after having been completely eradicated in 2014. As the number of cases reported increase, investigations are launched only to find the mishandling of simple procedures like procuring all V2 vaccines, which contain the live virus, to eliminate use and prevent the upsurge of the disease again. Each failure highlights the overall incompetency of officials and complacency of the government in correcting mistakes.

Surely, it takes a lot for the IMF to candidly state that the polio programme of our country is ‘fooling itself into thinking it has made progress.’ Perhaps this conclusion is a product of a trend of inaction every time a new government forms. Right after the 2013 elections, 306 cases were reported—reduced to 8 by 2017 after which the PML-N government took on a laid back approach. In a similar fashion, the inauguration of PTI’s government was met with steadily rising cases, starting at 12 in 2018 to 58 in the status quo. Once a focal point of election campaigns, proactive action has still not been taken to control the transmission of the deadly disease. Needless to say, there is a dire need to reform the system if we are to mitigate the damage that has been done to the public’s health and well-being.