After three years of resounding success involving only one case of polio throughout the nation, India recently established itself as the world’s most recent country to have eradicated the crippling polio virus. The success was the result of a large base of vaccinators, public charities, UN agencies along with the help of private donors and the central government. The vaccinators – an army of around two million – receive robust support from religious and community leaders, and reach slums, train stations as well as other remote parts of the country to provide shots to children.

Although Pakistan faces a different and convoluted set of problems – we do, after all, have an extremist virus that views inoculation campaigners as spies – that inhibit a successful program to expunge polio from our country, we could learn an important lesson from India. For starters, we need our government to solidify more serious and sincere efforts into training and increasing vaccinators. With the scanty number we have at this moment and considering our gargantuan population, the ratio falls too low and the risks to these brave few are many. Secondly, our community leaders along with religious figures should feel morally obligated to eliminate the paranoia surrounding polio programs. Yes, a vaccination program was faked once but that does not constitute as the norm but a deeply unfortunate exception. This is something that has to be spelt out and reinforced. Our mistrust permanently affects our children’s lives.

Most importantly, considering how we are the only polio-endemic country that has an increasing number of polio cases – from 58 in 2012 to 83 in 2013, all provinces are entitled to the provincial governments’ investment to address this issue. Polio is not a health issue in Pakistan; it is, much to the helplessness of people, a politicized quagmire. Without dedicated input from our politicians and leaders, this will not going anywhere, and our children will suffer the most.