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Coordinated drives needed to wipe out polio

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Coordinated drives needed to wipe out polio
 The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has decided to hold coordinated polio campaigns with Afghanistan to prevent the outbreak of the virus in the two regions.
According to KP health secretary, Pakistan and Afghanistan have shared the same epidemiological block and the decision to conduct campaigns on the same day with Afghanistan would not only minimize the risk of missed children who are on the move but also address the issue of virus outbreak in the region.
Inaugurating the special inactivated polio vaccination (IPV) drive at the Lady Reading Hospital in KP, the official hoped such campaigns would also address the issue of virus outbreak in the region. He also said over two million children aged four to 23-month would be vaccinated during the IPV drive, which begins in Peshawar today.
Since decades, polio remained endemic in the two countries due to security reasons, because the polio vaccinators could not reach those areas where there is insecurity. Moreover, polio virus could also be transferred to the two countries as hundreds of people cross the Durand Line on daily basis.
Since the two countries agreed to fight polio, they should intensify efforts to halt the spread of the crippling polio virus, including better screening of travelers at the crossing points. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries in the world that have been transferring the polio virus to each other.
Despite notable progress, there are also challenges before the drive. It is believed that two main obstacles hamper the anti-polio campaign in the country. First, a sense of mistrust filled the air in tribal belts – where the militants hold strong sway – as a result of the militants’ negative propaganda. Parents lost their trust in health workers and showed little tendency in having their children vaccinated. 
Second, the escalated insurgency in restive provinces jeopardize the life of health workers. Warring factions, mainly the so-called IS militants and the Taliban, spill the blood of combatants and non-combatants indiscriminately. 
They have constantly violated humanitarian law through slaying women, children and health workers. Despite medical facilities, staffs and patients during war time are given immunity by the Laws of Armed Conflict – also known as International Humanitarian Law – the militants target them on purpose. Within past years, several polio workers, including women, have been targeted by armed gunmen in insecure provinces. 
Therefore, it is important for the two countries to provide security for the health workers and develop coordination and quality of cross-border vaccination and make sure that nobody should remain unvaccinated to prevent the risk of its spread. 
There is no denying to the fact that Afghanistan and Pakistan could not succeed in anti-polio campaign unless addressing the root cause which is insecurity and lack of the local cooperation with the health workers.