Where we were once close to completely eradicating polio, our progress has been completely wiped away by the failure of successive governments. Thirteen cases surfaced within a single day in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; not only is this unprecedented, this lapse is also completely unforgivable.

In simple terms, what this means is that the future of 144 children was dealt a huge blow last year and this year looks to be no different, with over 44 cases already. When is the state going to realise that the existing polio eradication policy is not working?

Currently, vaccine refusal remains a huge stumbling block in the fight against polio as does the irregularity of the immunisation drives. Any new policy must strictly cater to this exigent problem as well. Only last year, the police in northern areas had the opportunity to register cases and refusing parents, but they chose not to do so. Authorities need to be willing to throw the book at any offenders if we are to have any chance of ensuring that refusing parents do not endanger the lives of their children.

The state must act as patriarch in this matter, as it does so on other opportunities. It has now been a year and a half since the political transition that has been blamed as the leading cause for the rise in cases took place – which took place when the government changed hands. When is the sitting government going to prioritise eradicating polio?

This matter of national health has already become too political; communities are already using the polio vaccine as leverage to get demands from the government accepted. None of this should be tolerated. The only thing that needs to be done is to implement a no-tolerance policy on refusals and an all-encompassing national campaign that leaves no stone unturned. The fight against polio for the taking; but is the government prepared or even willing to make sure that it gets the right results?