The Baluchistan government has decided to introduce a vaccination bill in the provincial assembly, to make it compulsory for parents to get their children, below the age five, vaccinated for polio. It also took a firm stance of refusal to abide by this, which would lead to punishment and arrest by the authorities. The Balochistan Health Secretary, Noor-ul-Haq Baloch, stated that they were preparing a draft for the provincial government to bring a Polio Vaccination Act in the Assembly saying that this virus would not be eradicated unless the refusal to act upon it was. The Health Department has already declared 45 union councils as high risk areas, where presence of polio virus has been confirmed in environmental samples collected from Quetta and Killa Abdullah districts. Pakistan, being only of the only three countries where polio is still characterised as an endemic viral infection, why is it that the provinces that are deemed as being the most ‘resistant’ to development are the ones that seem to be actually doing something?

Pakistan has a long and violent history regarding the struggle to eradicate polio. In December 2012, militant gunmen began targeting vaccination teams. With an estimated 75 people involved in Pakistan’s vaccination efforts killed since then, why isn’t the state providing any security to the whole vaccination programme, one that is potentially saving lives of our future generations?

The UNICEF has been supporting Pakistan’s polio eradication programme through mobilisation since 1994, but more than 40,000 parents refuse to administer anti-polio vaccine to their children in every campaign. The has recorded 295 polio cases in 2014 so far and half of the victims remained unvaccinated due to refusal, where Fata has recorded 174 polio cases, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 67, Sindh 29, Baluchistan 22 and Punjab with three polio cases. With the most dominant province, not directly affected by this endemic, it seems as if the state does not feel its eradication as a priority.

This rhetoric of development of Pakistan, one that only has the constituents of showing tangible ‘ornaments’ of success, is frankly one of the reasons we are stuck in a spiralling hole of senseless policies and reforms. If the state cannot even protect the provinces that they themselves have played a significant in exploiting and deteriorating the growth of, we as a nation will always be stuck in the shadow of being called a failed-terrorist state. The vaccination legislation should be encouraged by all members of the provincial assembly, and be made into law with haste.