With no new cases reported in the previous year, Pakistan has reached a significant milestone in its fight to eliminate the polio virus.
According to local media, it has been one year since a severe disease paralyzed any child in the country. The last polio virus infection was recorded on January 27, 2021, and Friday marks the first time in Pakistan’s history that no new cases have been reported in a year.
Experts say a country must be polio-free for three years in a row, but in a country where vaccination teams are targeted by insurgents, even a year is a long time.
Nigeria had previously declared polio eradication in 2020, leaving only Islamabad and Kabul as endemic countries.
Polio has historically thrived in the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands, where militants have assaulted and killed anti-polio workers.
Since 2012, almost 70 polio workers have been murdered in insurgent attacks in the country’s northern area. Anti-polio campaigns have been going on since 1994, when many people still thought it was a Western conspiracy.
On Saturday, a cop escorting a polio vaccination team was killed when unidentified assailants opened fire on him in the Kohat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The assassination occurred just one day after KP’s chief secretary, Dr. Shahzad Khan Bangash, formally began the second phase of the year’s first anti-polio campaign, claiming that over 3.4 million children will be immunize against the disabling disease.