Int’l body commends Pak anti-polio progress

Islamabad—The meeting of International Monitoring Board (IMB) on Polio that concluded on Friday at London highly appreciated the progress made by Pakistan during last low season. The meeting was especially impressed by programme capacity to pre empt risks, identify and address gaps on real time basis. The meeting acknowledged the commitment from the Prime Minister and the critical role of security forces to provide space for health.
The meeting stressed need to ensure leadership stability in Emergency Operation Centre for Polio Eradication, health departments and key divisions and districts, says a fax message received here from London.
The meeting showed full confidence in strategies outlined in National Emergency Action Plan to interrupt virus transmission during 2016. “To make it happen, besides maintaining quality all across, we will need to focus on Karachi, North Sindh, high risk mobile populations especially on Pak Afghan border,’ the meeting observed.
The IMB also urged donors to fully support the government in outstanding work for children of the world. It emphasized that resource constraints must not be an obstacle to the great work in progress. The Board observed that there is no resource gap at the moment but all aggressive approaches outlined in the plan would be supported through additional grant assistance.
Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar said the program had travelled great distance over the past eighteen months to overhaul programme performance management and accountability systems and structures as well as personnel. “Our core strategy as elaborated in the National Emergency Action Plan for Polio, 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.”
She said “We are satisfied with the turnaround and rapid progress but recognize that polio interruption and eradication is a zero sum game and we are not yet at zero.” The minister said inaccessible children have been reduced to negligible levels. All of our security forces have contributed to provision of the safe and secure environment within which vaccination teams work.
“We recognize that success on the doorstep between a vaccinator and caregiver leading to successful, repeated vaccination is the key to sustaining our performance.” An increased proportion of local, female staff and supervisors, improved retention, enhanced training and more timely payment are each contributing to a better capacitated and motivated workforce, the minister said.
Speaking on the occasion, Prime Ministers’ Focal Person on Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq said between July 2015 and June 2016, the programme made further steady progress towards the interruption of poliovirus transmission in Pakistan. The major paradigm-shift from “coverage” to the “missed children” has driven the program operations in all provinces with very encouraging results.—APP

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