Islamabad, (IANS) India must receive “due appreciation” as it has been a year since its last case of polio was reported, said a leading Pakistani daily.
An editorial in the Dawn Saturday said that India is marking the passage of a full year since its last case of polio was reported.
“If this trend continues, and no new or previously undisclosed case of the dreaded virus is reported, the country would be considered polio-free,” it said.
The head of the World Health Organisation’s global polio eradication initiative has said that India’s example is a game-changer in the fight against a crippling disease.
“India’s efforts must receive their due appreciation. If India is declared polio-free, just three countries Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan will remain polio-endemic,” said the editorial said.
A few years back, Pakistan seemed to be on the verge of bringing polio under control.
It said: “A number of factors though have led to a resurgence in polio cases. These include parents reluctant to have their offspring inoculated because of aspersions cast by clerics on the immunisation campaign, the falling rates of routine vaccination, the inability of health teams to access remote areas and the displacement of people by conflict and floods.”
Last year, over 170 new cases were documented in Pakistan and the virus started showing up in localities earlier considered polio-free.
“True, there has been some progress. In the early 1990s, the annual incidence of polio in the country was estimated at over 20,000 cases, yet much remains to be done.”
It went on to say that among the factors to which WHO attributes the resurgence of the virus is the war in the areas bordering Afghanistan.
“The conflict limits safe access to children and exacerbates managerial problems, meaning that the targeted population in high-risk areas does not receive adequate doses of the polio vaccine.
“While the former is a knotty problem, surely the gaps that the latter present can be plugged,” the editorial said.