After Nigeria was officially struck off the UN list of polio-endemic countries, the focus has shifted on Pakistan and Afghanistan, as they are the only two countries left in the world where polio still exists. Admittedly the anti-polio drive by the present government has been successful in reducing the alarming number from 396 cases in the preceding year to only 32 cases of polio recorded this year so far. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced earlier this year that his government has a firm resolve to eradicate polio from Pakistan and also appreciated the cooperation of the Chief Ministers for conducting successful campaigns in their respective provinces.

The chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, on Saturday in New York called upon the Premier, where he lauded Pakistan’s efforts to wipe out the crippling poliovirus from the country. He also appreciated Pakistan’s Army Chief General Raheel Sharif for the critical role the army is playing in anti-polio drive in the tribal areas. The PM promised his commitment to end the outbreak at the high profile and internationally covered meeting is surely a good sign. Commitment from the government is the most important aspect in removing this threat forever, be it internally or with the help of international organisations.

Nigeria, once stigmatised as the world’s polio epicenter, celebrated its first year with no reported case of the crippling disease, having overcome obstacles ranging from Islamic extremists who assassinated vaccinators to rumours the vaccine was a plot to sterilise Muslims. The same issues have plagued Pakistan since the Taliban had banned any sort of Polio vaccine drives in FATA since July 2012. Now with the army driving out the militants from the tribal areas and the commitment from the Ulema to cooperate with the government to create awareness about polio vaccinations, Pakistan might just hopefully be Polio-free.