Pakistan’s effort to eradicate polio virus commended by international agencies
This was stated by during a high profile briefing at the National Emergency Operations Centre, where international partners vowed to support the government on its way to the final finish line of polio eradication.
The international partners who attended the meeting included WHO, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canadian High Commission, JICA, Rotary International, CDC, USAID and AUSAID.
They were given a detailed briefing on the status of the polio program by the national coordinator Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, who also presented on the low transmission season between 2015-16. He also shared plans to address the remaining challenges during the upcoming low season starting from 26th September.
The strategic objectives of the National Emergency Action Plan 2016/17 include stopping of poliovirus transmission in all reservoirs, detection, containment and elimination from newly infected areas, maintenance and increase in population immunity, stopping of international spread of Wild Poliovirus by decreasing risk across common reservoirs.
“Steady pressure on the virus is paying dividend that can be seen well beyond the reduced case count. Core reservoirs are now Khyber-Peshawar-Nangarhar, Quetta-Kandahar and Karachi”. He said that through consistent cooperation and support of the local communities, we are all set to wipe the virus.
Prime Minister’s focal person on polio Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq apprised on the determination of the government to fulfill the unfinished agenda of polio free Pakistan. She said that the programme had progressed over the past 18 months to overhaul the performance management and accountability of systems and structures.
She said that the Prime Minister had continued and direct oversight through the National Task Force (NTF) and the Prime Minister’s Focus Group (PMFG) which allowed the program to heighten oversight and accountability everywhere.
This has reduced inaccessible children to negligible levels as frontline staff are engaged in campaigns each month from the local government infrastructure.
“We must not shoot the messengers, surfacing issues and problems must continue to be encouraged and not sanctioned,” she said.
While appreciating the continued support of the international community, she said that “post-polio we would collectively continue benefiting from this critical infrastructure and working mechanisms in the interest of broader public health agenda in the country.”
The representatives of international partners termed the success to eradicate polio in Pakistan as a lesson for all public health programmes and urged utilisation of the critical network of Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) to deliver broader national public health agenda in future.