Poliomyelitis High Risk Area in Pakistan: The Battle Against Polio (as of 29 April 2016)

Originally published


Pakistan is one of the two remaining countries in the world where poliomyelitis (polio) is still categorized as an endemic viral infection, the other being Afghanistan. As of October 2015, there have been 38 documented cases of wild poliovirus in Pakistan in the past year. Though the polio immunization campaign in the country started in 1974, the efforts for eradication officially started in 1994. The infection remains endemic despite over 100 rounds of vaccination being carried out in the past decade.

Pakistan had the world's highest number of polio cases in 2014,and as of October 2015, it has maintained this record. However, the number of cases in 2015 is a fraction of those recorded in 2014. The country has announced a goal of eradication by 2016.

Recent Government Efforts

In 2015, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government issued arrest warrants for 1,200 parents and guardians for refusing to administer vaccine to their children. 512 people were arrested on the charge but were later freed after signing an undertaking that they would not oppose vaccination.

By 2015, new cases of polio had dropped by 70% as compared to 2014, due to increased vaccination in parts of the northwest Pakistan that had previously been under the control of militants.

These areas were secured by Pakistani forces in the Zarb-e-Azb Campaign against Taliban militants. Previously, vaccination teams were forbidden by militants from vaccinating children in the area.