Health Minister urges focused efforts to finish the job in polio

April 06, 2016

Islamabad, the 6th April, 2016:- Chairing a high level meeting here today  Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar called upon the concerned to focus their efforts on remaining bottlenecks and meeting the last remaining challenges in finishing the job of polio eradication in the country.

Pakistan has surmounted the most daunting of challenges and we are now well poised to stop transmission of the poliovirus said the Minister addressing the meeting that was attended by Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Secretary National Health Services Muhammad Ayub Sheikh, Director General Health, Country Coordinator Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, Member Environment CDA, Director Health CDA, District Health Officer, Islamabad and heads of international partner agencies.

We have to go down to the union councils and street level to address gaps identified in the independent monitoring, she added.

The Minister appreciated the overall performance in the countrywide polio drive held from 14 to 16 March where over 37 Million children were administrated polio vaccine by 220,000 health workers and volunteers.

The Minister said Islamabad should be a model for polio eradication efforts and set an example in this context. The Minister called for a joint committee of CDA and Islamabad Capital Territory authorities on polio to ensure optimal level of coordination in the polio effort. Challenges with regard to human resource must be met on urgent basis so that campaign quality is not compromised.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication said straight monitoring through the National and Provincial Emergency Operations Centres and District Control Rooms was playing a critical role in the success of the polio drive.

Intra-campaign assessment with on the spot corrective measures are an integral part of the monitoring and helping remove any impediments on real time basis.

Monitoring is of high quality and independent with local authorities having no say in sample selection; said PM’s Focal Person.

She informed the meeting that she had undertaken a visit to interior Sindh to discuss measures to improve campaign quality in Sukkur and Larkana.

Earlier Polio Emergency National Coordinator Dr. Rana Safdar gave a detailed briefing on the current status of Polio Eradication in Pakistan. There has been major decline in polio cases by 84 percent; he added.

Efforts must continue till reaching zero case. He said Karachi, Northern Sindh and Khyber-Peshawar corridor remain access of concern and special efforts are required in the context.

Member Environment CDA Islamabad Mr. Sana Ulla Amman, Director Health Services CDA Dr. Hasan Orooj and District Health Officer Islamabad shared challenges and discussed proposals to further improve polio efforts in Islamabad since the city is contiguous to polio affected areas though no case has been reported in the city since 2008.