Executive Director of United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Catherine Russell concluded her three-day tour to Pakistan and lauded the efforts of gov-ernment against the pandemic of the COVID-19 and eradication of polio from the country.
Russell, who selected Pakistan for her first interna-tional tour after assuming the office of UNICEF as head, while talking media on Wednesday said Paki-stan faced a lot of challenges like polio, COVID-19, malnutrition, stunted growth and high number of out of school children.
“I want to see myself what is happening in Pakistan as the country is aggressively coping with persistent problems which are worrisome and challenging” she said.
Talking about the efforts of Pakistan against polio, she said Pakistan strove hard for the eradication of polio and the role of health workers was commend-able that were high in numbers who visited door to door to make sure that no child was left without immunization.
“Polio is the disease we know how to prevent, and we are at the last stage to achieve our goal of ‘Polio free Pakistan’. Polio in Pakistan is interlinked with Afghanistan and we look towards both the countries together when we talk about the said disease. Both the countries should not ease up till no more chil-dren suffer from the disease”, she underlined.
She said UNICEF played a critical role across the globe to fight against COVID-19 and the response of Pakistan against virus was great. Appreciating the efforts of government, she said federal government worked amicably with collaboration of provinces to ensure COVID vaccination access to every citizen, but the education sector in Pakistan was under threat in the backdrop of the contagion.
“Over 20 million children were already out of schools in Pakistan prior to COVID emergency, but COVID-19 worsened it as the children lost their time and progress. UNICEF is trying best to get back children to schools especially the girls who are not being in schools and get married earlier”, the UNICEF head said.
She said she had positive meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan who apprised her of his plans and priorities against malnutrition, stunted growth, COVID-19, polio, out of school children and he was keen to solve all these challenges.
Addressing the role of women in Pakistan, she said women were absolutely critical to country’s future and she wanted them to get education and their de-sired jobs. She said: “this is how they will make difference for the future of Pakistan”.