In most countries, polio is a disease of the past. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of the world’s population lives in polio-free areas. The disease was eradicated from the American continent in 1994. However, poliomyelitis is still a threat to public health in Pakistan.
In “Polio Eradication in Pakistan: Call for Alliance,” Mahmood and colleages present an update about the fight against polio in the South Asian country. The authors point out the unique challenges that have delayed the polio-eradication effort in Pakistan and outline potential solutions.
In 1994, the Expanded Program on Immunization, a program initiated by the WHO to make vaccines accessible to all children, developed a strategy to eradicate polio in Pakistan by the end of 2005. However, militant organizations, conflicting cultural beliefs, and lack of government support led to the program’s failure. The persistence of polio in Pakistan is not only a threat to its people but also a threat to worldwide polio eradication—cases of polio in China and Egypt have been linked to the poliovirus strain endemic to Pakistan.
This editorial was published in the Spring issue of the Ochsner Journal.