With the world no longer living in the dark ages, many a fatal illness can now be eradicated through proper vaccination practices. However, the abysmal failure to fulfill our duties to children has continued. Almost 13 million infants did not receive any vaccinations in 2016. Another 6.6 million infants did not complete their three dose DTP immunisation course. No country seems to have done better or worse in the statistics. Around 7.3 million of these children live in fragile situations; and 4 million of these children live in three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. The dangers posed by new diseases are being compounded by the failure to eliminate diseases we have already learned to control. The reasons underpinning low vaccine coverage are different. The fate of children who are born in the conflict zones across the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa as well as those in war-torn parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan is sealed by geography. In places like the US, parents choosing not to vaccinate their children on the basis of conspiracy theories seal their fate. The WHO estimates that immunisation prevents between 2 and 3 million deaths per year. A concentrated campaign to target the most vulnerable children who are not provided vaccines would save so many more lives. The WHO has insisted that it is the ‘unreachable’ who must be reached through the expansion of healthcare facilities and immunisation campaigns. This is a difficult task. Brave health providers continue to operate in conflict zones, but there are never enough. Communities remain unreachable even by benevolent state apparatuses. Others are deliberately ignored. The lowest coverage remains in major conflict zones in Africa. The progress in vaccinations does not match the progress in the medical field. One of the major needs identified is pertaining to donor funding. While big programmes like polio eradication have bulk funding from external sources, some of the lesser known vaccines continue to get low support. Internally, countries are unwilling to spend big on vaccines when there has been no big outbreak of a certain disease in their populations. The lethargic response unpins why our children are at risk of more disease than ever since medical progress dealt small pox a death blow. The duty of the family to the child; and the state to its members is considered sacred. But this sacred duty has been constantly neglected throughout the globe. How else can the failure to vaccinate one in 10 children for deadly diseases be understood?
Time to make fresh pledges
Today is our Independence Day. Though celebrations are on but the day festivities also make one reflect on where we stand today. The political situation is uncertain and volatile. Economy is dwindling, law and order situation is not satisfactory. As a matter of fact, we are faced with galore of issues and crisis ranging from security threats to economic turmoil to Pakistan’s isolation on foreign policy front. Terrorism and militancy are still the bigger threats as despite the full-fledged NAP and other operations in action, the terrorists are still capable to strike at will. The current month, which is month during which we got Independence some 70 years ago, marked many killings, particularly those of police officials in Karachi. The incidents in recent months have turned the atmosphere dim with everyone asking as to why the militants are still so strong to strike at will despite the fact that operations against hem are in full swing in the country. The incidents in recent months across the country clearly pointed to failure on part of the LEAs which were seemingly found napping, otherwise such incidents would have been thwarted through better intelligence coordination. Actually, the state of Pakistan is virtually without a writ on most of its territory but one must insist that this has happened because of the wrong policies followed by those who dominate governance in Islamabad. The government is not ready to accept its responsibility. It rather accuses the world outside of killing people in Pakistan. The current rulers, blind to where the state is going, are busy in salvaging the image of the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the wake of Panama Leaks case decision. The atmosphere is still full of sorrow and sincere efforts needed to highlight the flaws that Pakistan has succumbed to. Our isolation on foreign front is also a matter of concern. With no full-fledged foreign minister in the country, the rulers defy the world through self-righteous isolationism. Our economy is also in doldrums. Exports are declining while remittances from expat workers are shrinking which are warning signs for our economy. But the government is not ready to accept its failure. It rather comes up with manipulated figures to console the masses. Our police officials are target of terrorists. As such, this Independence Day should be celebrated with renewed pledge to expedite the work against terrorists so that the country is purged of the terrorists and militants. Issues like economy and declining remittances and exports also need to be made part of the pledges to revive our economy.