Monday marked the start of the first nationwide anti-polio campaign of 2020. Before the commencement of this latest drive, it almost seemed as if the government had completely given up on the idea of eradicating polio from Pakistan.

To be fair, completing a national immunisation drive is no easy task, and one that is fraught with many dangers, particular for the vaccinators on the ground that deal with threats, refusals and a host of other problems. But this does not understate the importance of eliminating polio in the country.

An effective response to the polio virus is desperately needed. 2019 saw the number of incidents jump up to 144 from 2018’s 12 cases and a total of 7 cases in 2017. Compare that to this year, where barely a month has passed us by and we already have 17 confirmed cases around the country.

Last year’s lacklustre efforts to counter it have led to an unprecedented increase in the number of cases; the ruling party has a part to play in this failure. The ten-month immunity gap of last year – only two vaccination drives were held in 2019, one each in January and December – must not be repeated.

There is a reason 2019 saw over 100 cases of polio – the lack in immunisation drives are definitely a contributing factor. The government must take this more seriously. The well-being of future generations is at stake. We must get our name off the list of countries that still have the disease – only three remain – and stop threatening the lives of our children any longer.