The size of the challenges that we face was made clear at the beginning of this year, when a measles outbreak killed more than 300 children in Pakistan — most of whom had not received vaccines. Just this month, we learned the tragic news that a guard accompanying health workers was killed during an immunization drive.
However, we will not be deterred. Those who advocate violence are a minority in Pakistan, and will not stand in the way of our people’s betterment. With the upcoming elections, we have a valuable opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to vaccines by strengthening national leadership on health and increasing investment in the healthcare system. And, as I heard from the guardians at the orphanage, educating communities about the value of vaccines and mobilizing their support is critical for reaching every single child.
The cooperation of the Pakistani diaspora movement and international donors like the Islamic Development Bank (which last month signed a financing package of US$227 million to fight polio in Pakistan), together with the vaccinators’ determination to reach all of the country’s children, is inspirational. It is also changing lives for the better.
With continued support for vital vaccines from Pakistan’s government and people, I am hopeful that the next time I return home, there will be even more reasons to be optimistic about our children’s future.
Suniya Qureshi is executive director of the British Pakistan Foundation.
Copyright: Project Syndicate