Polio has proven a constant nuisance for the government and the people of the country this year. Not only the highest number of cases since 2015, i.e., 111 but also the spike in attacks on the polio teams attest to this. The latest drive, the last one of this year, was also not peaceful as two policemen escorting a polio vaccination team were gunned down in the Bishgram union council of Maidan. Considering this year’s polio tally and the attacks carried out against vaccination teams, with at least seven team members and policemen killed this year, the dream of a polio-free Pakistan seems a distant one.

The scandals that surfaced regarding Pakistan’s polio eradication program and inability to stop attacks on polio teams speak volumes about government’s determination to fight the disease. Unfortunately, the government, despite all its lofty claims and messages, is unable to present any concrete plan that can effectively deal with all the problems associated with the country’s polio eradication program. Structural issues in the program, coupled with the targeted attacks against polio workers and security officials are undermining all the gains that the government has made so far.

Those who want to fail the country’s fight against polio are relying on every possible means to achieve their goals. How is the government countering their efforts? Regrettably, the government, despite all its efforts and tall claims, has failed in inflicting a decisive blow to the disease. World Health Organisation (WHO) in its latest report has already expressed its fears that the virus will affect more children of the country next year.

The government should consider the year 2019 a case study. Deliberations on the year’s report will help the authorities identify the shortcomings in the current eradication program. Moreover, as said many a time in this newspaper’s editorials, the government needs to realise that our polio eradication program is outdated. Also, inefficiency and incompetence of the officials have further undermined the program’s effectiveness. Only recently, news of using expired polio vaccines sent shock waves across the country.

The surge in polio cases, displays of negligence and attacks against polio vaccination teams demands a comprehensive strategy from the authorities. It is high time that the government come up with a plan that cannot only control the crippling disease but also counter the attacks on the teams. Otherwise, the debilitating disease will inflict more miseries on the government. And all the gains and victories made so far will go down the drain in the absence of a concrete and comprehensive scheme against polio.