PESHAWAR - Though 14 years have been consumed to ensure complete polio eradication in Pakistan through door-to-door vaccination campaigns, yet the country witnessed a high ratio of polio cases in the outgoing year, urging government, caregivers and all segments of society to play a pivotal role in the eradication of this disease.

According to official data, 295 polio cases have been recorded in the country this year alone, the highest figure since 2000. Out of the total national case count, 67 are reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 174 from FATA, 22 from Balochistan, 29 from Sindh, and three from Punjab.

This scribe carried out a case study of one of the polio victims to share her journey of life and the challenges she faced while living with permanent disability as a learning experience for the masses.

Balqees Ayub Khan, serving as Lady Health Worker (LHW) here in one of the basic health units (BHU) of Union Council Mohabat Abad for the last nine years, is a victim of poliomyelitis who went through countless harsh experiences before reaching this phase of life.

“I had diarrhoea and severe temperature one day when I was three years old as a result of which one of my legs got paralyzed and I could not stand on my feet anymore,” said Balqees.

Hailing from a poor family of Sherpur area of district Mardan, Balqees has seven siblings while her father is a mentally ill person who could not cater to his family needs.

Recollecting her thoughts about the sufferings she faced along with her family, Balqees said that her parents and herself faced many difficulties and trials due to her disability and appealed to the parents to vaccinate their children against preventable diseases to avoid the same fate that her parents met.

To a query, she said that one of her teachers had financed her education till matric after which she joined this BHU as Lady Health Worker.

“Although I am living with this disease and have to face different types of public comments everyday yet I am taking this all as a challenge and am working hard to support myself and my family to prove my utility and worth as a living human being,” she said with commitment though her eyes were wet with tears.

She also said that having experienced a lifelong disability her mission is to ensure healthy living to other children and it was because of her physical presence in the teams that a number of refusals some of them hardcore have been covered in her native area Sherpur.

The total population in her area is around 1400 and around 120 people were showing resistance to vaccination particularly to polio vaccine but I have been able to cover 119 out of the 120 refusal cases while the only left behind would also be covered soon.”

“If I am asked to list down the key persons in ensuring immunization to the children, I could convince parents as they are the decision makers of their children,” she maintained.

However, she hastened to add that collective efforts by all segments of society including caregivers, teams, religious scholars, civil society, media were needed to wipe out polio from this country.

She argued that education was also equally important for handicapped children.