By Mansoor Bakhtiar
For the last few years Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan has been in the spotlight as it is the only province continues to report number of polio cases.
According to the health experts, the reasons behind higher number of cases in KP include lack of awareness among people regarding polio vaccination leading to refusal cases which played a very negative role.
However, despite outbreak of Covid19 across the world, KP witnessed a record decline in the number of polio cases with a drop by 76 percent in the province as compared to the cases reported in year 2019.
According to the official details obtained from regional polio office in Peshawar, total 22 polio cases in six districts of KP were reported during the year 2020 whereas number of cases in year 2019, were 93 which show a sharp decline.
The details further revealed that more than 6.5 million children were vaccinated last year across the province; however, a huge number of 1 million children in the province could not get polio vaccination due to several reasons including their non-availability at homes and the refusal states of their parents.
While talking to Voice of KP, a senior official said that 2020 was comparatively a good year for KP as it witnessed a sharp decline in the number of polio cases. The official further said that with the help of the KP government, they had launched many awareness campaigns which really helped polio teams to see a very positive attitude from parents.
Talking about the refusal against polio vaccination, the official said the ratio of refusal cases was a huge barrier for them but with the help of the civil society, teachers, doctors and especially religious scholars, they convinced thousands of parents to vaccinate their children against polio which was also one of the reasons behind a clear decline in the number of cases across the province.
The official concluded that the polio in coming few years will completely be eradicated from the country if people continued to play role in the vaccination process.
Imran Takkar a Peshawar based children rights activist while commenting on the decline in polio cases in KP said that polio workers especially women workers must be appreciated for their efforts and struggle to ensure polio vaccination even in the remote areas of Chitral.
Appreciating the role of the security forces in ensuring vaccination, Imran Takkar said that this tough job of vaccination and convincing the parents was never possible without the support and back up provided by the security forces.
It is worth mentioning that since 2012 when militants began targeting polio teams a total of 47 people have been killed in the incidents linked to polio vaccination in the country. The dead included 36 polio workers and 11 security men.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 25 persons have been killed including 18 polio workers and seven policemen in such incidents. The latest incident was murder of two female polio workers in Swabi district in January.