The Last Drops

Will health workers in Pakistan overcome political and religious tensions to vaccinate children against polio?

Note: this film is not suitable for children

The horrors of polio have left a legacy of suffering across the world.

When a breakthrough vaccine was discovered in the 1960s, polio was eliminated in the developed world. Other countries followed as vaccination campaigns were stepped up until only three countries remained, just a few hundred cases of polio in each. Until recently, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been the remaining endemic countries. There are now new reports of an outbreak in Syria. 

Polio is highly infectious and like all diseases has no respect for national borders, so the world remains at risk until the very last case of polio is gone.

This disease, if God wills it, can be eradicated from this country.

by Pakistani polio health worker

Pakistan is one of the last countries never to have ended polio despite concerted vaccination efforts from local, national and international organisations.

Teams of women ‘vaccinators’ in Pakistan struggle to achieve full coverage in a country wracked by ideological violence. Their commitment is unfailing even as they face attacks from the Taliban, as well as fearful communities that don’t trust the source of the vaccines. Determined and patient, these women go from door to door to try and get all the children protected.

A polio worker who lost two members of her family to the violence said:

“We should make an effort that people who don’t want the drops, who think that this is not right, we need to make them aware. If they become aware, we won’t have to work so hard for the coming generations. This disease, if God wills it, can be eradicated from this country.”

Lifelines: The Quest for Global Health profiles the extraordinary work of global health workers in their quest to rid the world of the deadly, neglected diseases and conditions that keep millions of people in poverty.


Lifelines: The Quest for Global Health   can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2000; Friday: 1200; Saturday: 0100; Sunday: 0600; Monday: 2000; Tuesday: 1200; Wednesday 0100