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No stone will be left unturned to make Pakistan Polio free; Minister for National Health Services Commends country team on substantial progress among many challenges

Islamabad, July 03, 2018 (PPI-OT): The Federal Minister for National Health Services, Muhammad Yousaf Shaikh reviewed Pakistan’s progress towards Polio virus interruption during a high-level meeting held in the Ministry. The National Coordinator, Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar gave a detailed briefing on the progress as well as mitigation strategies to overcome the remaining risks in the low transmission season 2018-19. Among others, the briefing was also attended by the Secretary Capt (Rtd) Zahid Saeed and Director General NHSRC Dr. Assad Hafeez.

The Federal Health Minister said that “We have to sustain this level of national commitment and must continue to take Polio eradication with the same degree of seriousness till the job is done Federal Minister directed the programme to convene a meeting of the National Task Force under the caretaker Prime Minister. Extending his appreciation to the country team, he reiterated that, “Polio eradication enjoyed broad political and popular support in our country and this commitment has made a difference when our people come together to work above political lines towards a national cause.”

He assured that the transition government will continue the course set for eradication. While appreciating the hard-work of the frontline workers, the Secretary National Health Services urged the need to plug the gaps of health and immunization systems being highlighted by the Polio eradication programme. “Converging efforts for better routine immunization coverage, improving water and sanitation and addressing malnutrition would give programme that decisive push, Capt (Rtd) Zahid Saeed stated.

He further advised the programme to finalize the PC-1 for next 3 years (2019-2021) to ensure adequate provision of resources during the transition phase. “The historic progress towards ‘Zero Polio’ would not have been achieved without the dedication of Government leadership across political divide and at all levels”, Dr Rana stated while sharing statistics of case decline from highs of 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015, 20 in 2016 and 8 in 2018. The job is however, far from being over as the virus has still managed to paralyse our 3 children in Dukki, Balochsitan during 2018 and continues to be detected from core reservoirs of Karachi as well as Quetta block and Khyber-Peshawar, he said.

Dr. Rana Safdar said that the National Emergency Action Plan for 2018-19 devised in consultation with provinces and partners shall accordingly be presented in the upcoming meeting of the National Task Force. The document builds of the gains made in last low season and aims to focus its best efforts in the current hot spots, while sustaining gains everywhere else.

Alignment of strategies with Afghanistan and strengthening routine immunization are the other identified priorities for additional focus. Sehat Muhafiz frontline health workers are at the centre of polio eradication efforts. During nation-wide immunization campaigns, 260,000 dedicated men and women walk from house-to -house and vaccinate every child under the age of 5. By ensuring that no child is missed, they are building immunity at community level— a critical step on the road to eradication.

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