Says polio-free Pakistan’ a national goal
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday launched a Rs 37 billion relief programme to provide Rs 25,000 cash assistance each among 1.5 million families across the flood-hit areas of the country.
The prime minister, addressing the launching ceremony, said the cash disbursement would be done through Benazir Income Support Programme in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority and other allied departments.
He said the heavy monsoon rains and consequent floods affected all four provinces with Balochistan being the most affected where hundreds of people died and infrastructure was destroyed.
He also paid tribute to the six martyred army officers including Quetta Corps Commander Lt. General Sarfaraz who sacrificed their lives in a chopper crash during the flood relief operation.
Mentioning his multiple visits to the flood-hit areas, the prime minister appreciated the rescue and relief efforts of all including National Disaster Management Authority, PDMAs, National Highway Authority, and other provincial departments.
“The whole nation needs to unite to face this situation. The federal and provincial governments are cooperating. Our international partners and donors are also extending their support,” he added.
The prime minister told the gathering that the cash assistance programme, launched in Jhal Magsi area of Balochistan, would support over Rs 9 million people across the country.
The prime minister also thanked Finance Minister Miftah Ismail for scraping Rs 37 billion from the national kitty to support the flood-hit people in that distressing time.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday terming ‘Polio-free Pakistan’ a national goal urged the citizens to cooperate with polio teams for the complete eradication of the crippling disease from the country.
“This is a testing time with the resurgence of recent polio cases and the related security incidents, but we can and will overcome it,” he said at the launch of the nationwide anti-polio drive.
The drive kicked off as the prime minister administered drops of polio vaccine to the children under five years of age, here at the Prime Minister’s House. The current anti-polio campaign for Karachi and six districts of southern Khyber-Pakhtunkwa started on August 15, while the National Polio Vaccination Drive will commence on August 22.
The prime minister vowed to get the country free from polio, which he said was affecting the children in some areas. He regretted that polio was one of the few countries in the world where it was still recognized as an endemic viral infection.
He urged the parents not to miss getting their children administered the polio drops and support the government’s goal to make Pakistan polio-free.
The prime minister expressed Pakistan’s commitment to ending polio and emphasised the role of the government leaders, health workers, and parents to ensure that the disease never paralyzed a child jointly. He said by keeping up the momentum and staying vigilant, Pakistan would be able to win the challenge of polio eradication.
PM Sharif called upon the federal, provincial and district managements to address the challenges of persistently missed children and also encourage the people by raising awareness about the gravity of the situation.
He paid tribute to the polio workers for relentlessly carrying out the drive in far-flung areas despite the challenges including resistance and refusals by some community members.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Federal Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, and representatives of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation attended the ceremony.
PM Sharif, who also chaired the National Task Force meeting for polio eradication, expressed his government’s full commitment to taking practical measures for curbing wild poliovirus transmission in Pakistan.
He said the current climatic conditions posed great challenges to vaccination campaigns, however, lauded the services of polio teams that carried on despite floods in several parts of Khyber Pakhtunkwa and torrential rains in Karachi.
He thanked the law enforcement agencies, especially Pakistan Army and Police for their support to polio teams across Pakistan. He mentioned that several officers and polio workers sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. The participants of the meeting recited fateha for the police constables and soldiers who were martyred in Tank on Tuesday.