Federal Minister for Health, Qadir Patel on Wednesday said that recent polio cases have made Pakistan more determined to fight the virus till its complete elimination.
He was addressing the fifth meeting of the regional sub-committee on Polio eradication and outbreaks, convened by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari in Cairo.
Qadir Patel said, “Pakistan’s Polio Programme continues to work hard to reach zero polio case, and the recent cases in Pakistan have made us more determined to fight this virus till the end. Since the first case appeared, the health ministry and the polio programme have been working very closely together to meet the needs of the hour and effectively interrupt poliovirus transmission.”
The last two polio-endemic countries in the world, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have reported 11 wild polio cases this year, with 10 cases in Pakistan and one in Afghanistan. All of Pakistan’s cases have appeared in the district of North Waziristan.
“The continued presence of any circulating poliovirus in any country of the region has catastrophic consequences for children who are paralyzed and poses a threat to national, regional, and global health security. The need for regional solidarity, collaboration, and collective action has never been greater,” said Dr. Al-Mandhari.
Emphasizing the importance of reaching all children, the co-chair of the regional subcommittee Dr. Hanan Al-Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, Qatar said, “For our Region to be free of polio, we have to get ahead of the virus and strengthen immunity levels in all at-risk children across the region, particularly those who are inaccessible or persistently missed by routine immunization and polio vaccination campaigns.”
The meeting was attended by health ministers or their representatives from Djibouti, Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, besides partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and donors.