Minister for National Health Services, Saira Afzal Tarar has said that tremendous progress has been achieved by Pakistan towards the goal of polio eradication under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
While chairing a high level review meeting on polio eradication in preparation for International Monitoring Board Review of Pakistan’s Polio Performance, Saira Afzal Tarar said tremendous progress has been achieved by Pakistan towards the goal of polio eradication under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who is monitoring the campaign closely.
Last year, the country reported 20 cases which was lowest ever number in the history of polio eradication initiative in Pakistan. Whereas so far this year we have had two cases compared to 11 cases in the corresponding period last year. When this Government took office, Pakistan was experiencing a raging outbreak of polio with unprecedented number of polio cases reported across the country. We took this is a challenging as it was the question of health and wellbeing of our children and our prestige in the comity of nations, said the Minister while addressing the participants of the meeting.
The meeting was attended by Secretary Health Muhammad Ayub Shaikh, Director General Health Dr. Assad Hafeez, National Coordinator of National Polio Emergency Centre Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, Representative of Pakistan Army and senior officials from international partner agencies.
In a detailed presentation, the meeting was informed that environmental surveillance to detect poliovirus has been enhanced with addition of more sites to collect Sewage samples. An aggressive strategy has been employed to track and vaccinate missed children. Arrangements are in place at Pak-Afghan border entry points to vaccinate children. Currently children under 10 years of age were being immunized. It was advised in the meeting to look into the possibility of enhancing the age bracket from 10 years to include adults.
The meeting noted the urgent need to strengthen routine immunization services. In this context, Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar shared that she will be undertaking visits of Provinces to discuss with the Provincial leadership measures required to improve routine immunization services for children adding that the federal government had made all out effort to ensure uninterrupted provision of vaccines for EPI. She said we have ensured that there is no dearth of resources in this context.
Earlier, National Coordinator of National Polio Emergency Centre Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar gave a detailed briefing on the current status of polio eradication in the country.—SABAH