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Polio-free Pakistan: The Challenge of High-Risk Districts

Read the complete First Response here.

After more than a year of no cases in Pakistan, fourteen cases of wild poliovirus have been detected in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) as of August 2022.

  • Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Programme has scaled up remarkably well, and thus contained the virus from spreading. However, it continues to exist and circulate through six high-risk districts in southern KP. 
  • These areas have unique challenges in terms of insecurity, post-conflict rebuilding, administrative flux, and the Tochi River acting as a connection of water channels from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s Indus River.
  • These challenges will require novel approaches to permanently interrupt the circulation of wild poliovirus in Pakistan. This can be done by:
    • enhancing the public service ecosystem for vulnerable communities
    • making immunisation a priority point in the TTP negotiations
    • structurally recalibrating the polio eradication programme to increase worker motivations and synergise with other health interventions
    • leveraging technologies for better access and microplanning.

For Pakistan to reach the finish line in becoming polio-free, it is critical to understand the complex challenges specific to the high-risk districts and how they can be addressed. 

Read and download the complete PDF here. 

Ali Saood
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Ali Saood is a Policy Associate at Tabadlab. Currently, he is working on research and advisory projects focused on public and private sector engagements to improve the Public Health ecosystem. His past work experience includes policy analysis, developing institutional strategies, researching Digital Humanities Tools, and strategizing supply chains. He is interested in exploring mechanisms that mobilise private sector to achieve development outcomes. Ali holds a Master's in International Development from University of Edinburgh and Bachelor's in Business Administration from IBA Karachi.

Zeeshan Salahuddin
+ posts

Zeeshan Salahuddin is the Director for the Centre for Regional and Global Connectivity (CRGC) at Tabadlab. Zeeshan’s research focuses on security studies, particularly religious and political extremism in Pakistan, and its priorities in an increasingly multipolar world. He frequently writes for The News, The Friday Times, Dawn, The Diplomat, Foreign Policy, and others, and occasionally provides analysis on BBC and CNN. He has a master’s degree in Corporate Communications and Strategic Management from Ithaca College, New York.