Islamabad :Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the National Task Force on Polio Eradication at Prime Minister Office today.
The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for National Health Services Mr. Amir Mehmood Kiani, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mr. Shah Farman, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan Hafiz Hafiz-ur-Rehman, Pakistan Army Engineer-in Chief Lt. Gen. Muhammad Afzal, Minister for Health AJ&K Dr. Najeeb Naqi Khan, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Country Representatives UNICEF Ms. Aida Girma, Country Head of WHO Dr. Nima Saeed Abid, representatives of partner organizations and senior officials.
Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Mr. Babar Bin Atta briefed the Task Force in detail about the current situation and the future Polio eradication strategy. It was informed that Pakistan’s efforts for polio eradication have been recognized world over as polio cases have recorded an exponential decline since 1994 onwards. The participants were informed that the main factors contributing towards Polio incidence in Pakistan were cross-border movement from Afghanistan, poverty, poor sanitation, low coverage of routine birth immunization, access & security threats and most importantly misconceptions that results in refusal of immunization.
Regarding the future course of action, it was briefed that the strategy needs to be implemented at the grass-root levels with targeted awareness campaigns, countering propaganda and high level engagements with decision makers and religious scholars.
Chief Ministers of Punjab, Sindh and Giglit Baltistan apprised the Taskforce regarding measures taken at the provincial level for Polio eradication.
Pakistan Army Engineer-in-Chief Lt. Gen. Muhammad Afzal said that Pakistan Army will continue to provide security and an enabling environment for the success of Polio eradication campaigns in areas with security issues.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Polio incidence is a very serious issue for the country as it jeopardizes the future of our children. He urged the Provincial Governments to enhance efforts for complete polio eradication through spearheading of the campaigns preferably at the level of Chief Ministers, coordinated community level engagements by involving prominent local elders and religious scholars. The Prime Minister emphasized that the Task Force meetings should be held more frequently to effectively oversee the progress and to achieve zero incidence in the shortest possible timeframe.
Dr. Christopher Maher, Manager, Polio Eradication WHO praised the high level presence, efforts and support of the Government of the Pakistan, Provincial Governments and Security Forces regarding polio eradication. He also commended the integration of Polio Eradication Program with education, sanitation and other related sectors.
The Prime Minister reiterated the PTI Government’s commitment towards a Polio free Pakistan and assured that Federal Government will provide every possible support in achieving this target. He thanked the international partner agencies for providing technical and financial support to Pakistan Polio Eradication Program.