Islamabad, Jan 16 - A newspaper Thursday said lessons should be learnt from India if Pakistan wants to eradicate polio.
In an editorial, The Nation saluted the efforts undertaken by both official and non-official agencies in India to overcome the polio virus.
“After three years of resounding success involving only one case of polio, India recently established itself as the world’s most recent country to have eradicated the crippling polio virus,” it said.
“The success was the result of a large base of vaccinators, public charities, UN agencies along with the help of private donors and the central government.
“The vaccinators – an army of around two million – receive robust support from religious and community leaders, and reach slums, train stations as well as other remote parts of the country to provide shots to children.”
The daily said although Pakistan faced “a different and convoluted set of problems”, yet “we could learn an important lesson from India”.
“We do, after all, have an extremist virus that views inoculation campaigners as spies,” it said.
“For starters, we need our government to solidify more serious and sincere efforts into training and increasing vaccinators.
“With the scanty number we have at this moment and considering our gargantuan population, the ratio falls too low and the risks to these brave few are many.
“Secondly, our community leaders along with religious figures should feel morally obligated to eliminate the paranoia surrounding polio programmes.”
In a clear reference to the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, the editorial said: “Yes, a vaccination programme was faked once but that does not constitute as the norm but a deeply unfortunate exception.”
A Pakistani doctor carried out a fake vaccination programme in Abbottabad where bin Laden lived apparently at the suggestion of the American CIA. The doctor is now jailed in Pakistan.
The Nation said Pakistan was the only polio-endemic country that had seen an increasing number of polio cases — from 58 in 2012 to 83 in 2013.
“Polio is not a health issue in Pakistan; it is, much to the helplessness of people, a politicized quagmire.
“Without dedicated input from our politicians and leaders, this will not going anywhere, and our children will suffer the most.”