The recent declaration, that no new cases of polio have come up in Nigeria in the last one-year, should put pressure on Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio. Afghanistan and Pakistan now remain the only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. One could argue that every country has its own set of issues and hence Nigeria cannot be compared to Pakistan, yet when 197 countries in the world are polio free, it is quite humiliating to be the only country that has failed.

Much of the effort that goes into the eradication of polio is dependable on external factors like militancy and illiteracy. Boko Haram, the hardcore militant group in Nigeria, has been targeting polio workers and earlier this year they killed nine polio workers. However, the anti-polio battle had enough commitment to make a real change.

Over twelve high-risk polio districts have been identified across Pakistan and will be under special focus during the low-transmission season starting September. The disease is somewhat isolated to these pockets mostly in FATA, Khyber and Quetta. The government has a good chance in eliminating the disease once and for all by targeting high-risk areas, no matter that the opposition. We must remember that apart from militancy, most the responsibility is on the parent, to demand from the state and society that their children are safe from disease.

Under the National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication (2015-16), the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) is strengthening cooperation between national, provincial and district level authorities, and collecting scientific data at the grassroots level to identify vulnerable segments and direct their focus on these areas. Polio cases identified in the first quarter of this year have already fallen to one quarter of what they were last year. Maybe next year, Pakistan too can be free from polio.