Islamabad—The National Polio Management Team, together with the Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners met to review the progress of Pakistan’s National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) on polio eradication in Pakistan and to chalk out the programme’s critical steps for the remainder of 2016. The meeting, just one week before the October Sub-National Immunization Days (SNIDs), was seen as a critical opportunity for the programme to re-focus efforts to deliver the highest quality campaign, reaching every child under five.
In her opening remarks, the Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, thanked Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners for their sustained commitment, recognizing their unique position to lead and enable the programme. “Your involvement with your teams has been critical in achieving our success to date – your strong leadership and drive for results is clearly showing us how collective efforts do make a difference for all the children of Pakistan.”
Focused on sustaining the gains made in the last 12 months, Senator Ayesha cautioned “our core strategy elaborated in the NEAP is to root out the virus in the reservoirs, detect and react aggressively to outbreaks and to maintain population immunity levels elsewhere in the country remains the correct one. We have made rapid progress but recognize that polio interruption and eradication is a zero sum game and we are not yet at zero.”
The virus has proved to be a constant and resilient foe for Pakistan. So far in 2016, 15 cases have been recorded and positive environmental samples continue to be seen in the country. “However, there has been no case in the core reservoirs since February, which remains to be the silver lining; and as we continue to enhance the sensitivity of our surveillance system, we expect more of the virus to be revealed” National Coordinator of Emergency Operations Centre, Dr Rana Safdar said. “Bad news now is ultimately good news for us on the road to interruption and ultimately certification – provided we identify and effectively address all the issues in our way and until we address them, we will not succeed.”
The meeting reaffirmed full commitment to reach peak performance and identified the remaining gaps setting out measures to overcome any obstacles in the coming weeks and months to stop transmission and sustain interruption of the virus.
The National Polio Management Team (NPMT) consists of coordinators of the national and provincial Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs), Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) managers from the provinces and FATA and leads of partner agencies who assess progress of the NEAP and to look critically at ongoing risks to stopping transmission in 2016.