UNICEF warns that if polio is not eradicated, it could resurge to 200,000 new cases annually within 10 years.
Pakistan cricket captain Misbah-ul-Haq on Friday pledged his backing to international efforts to rid the world of polio.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) marks Friday as international polio day with Pakistan and Australia cricket teams dedicating their ongoing first Test to the fight to end the disease.
According to UNICEF figures, when the global effort to eradicate polio was launched in 1998, 350,000 children were paralyzed by polio each year in 125 countries. That number has now been reduced by more than 99 percent. Only three countries have not stopped polio—Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria—and this year, only 247 cases have been reported worldwide, but more than 85 percent (210) of those are in Pakistan.
Haq said his team is wholeheartedly behind the campaign against polio. “My team and I really want to be the part of this campaign and everybody is thinking that why Pakistan is only one of three countries where the polio exists, so we must hit polio for a six,” he said. “As a player we have enjoyed our lives so we also want all other kids to play and I request all the parents to have their kids vaccinated and be healthy and active citizens of Pakistan.”
The UNICEF praised both teams’ support. “Pakistan now holds the key to global polio eradication in its hands,” said UNICEF in a press release. “As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from the last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years, across the world.”