POLIO EMERGENCY

February 20, 2015

 Islamabad, February 20, 2015 :- Minister of State for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar chairing a high level meeting here today to review recommendations of Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Polio, directed that full implementation of its recommendations be ensured. The TAG which met on 14-15 February, 2015 in Islamabad comprised of world renowned experts on polio who reviewed all aspects of Pakistan’s Polio Program in detail and issued specific recommendations to improve the situation. Saira Afzal Tarar emphasized that we need to focus our energies on missed children. To this end, we require credible data and independent analysis, she added. There has to be a revision of micro plans of 497 high risks Union Councils of the country to get number of children right so that the plans and strategies can be devised accordingly to reach the unreached children. There was a need to vigorously track missed children and concentrate human resource in areas with missed children. The Minister tasked WHO and UNICEF officials to work closely with District Polio Eradication committees and update the micro plans by the10th of March positively. Highlighting the importance of monitoring, the Minister said that we need to institute strong intra and post campaign monitoring. It was important to know the campaign progress on real-time basis to allow for immediate corrective measures and interventions. Time is vital and we only have the window of 8 weeks to get maximum advantages of the low transmission season. We will be soon visiting the Provinces to discuss the gaps in campaign quality and highlight the critical importance of implementing the recommendations of TAG with a sense of urgency. The Minister while appreciating the overall improvement of campaign quality expressed concern when informed about sub-optimal campaign quality in central Pakistan which comprised districts of Northern Sindh, Southern Punjab and Northern Balochistan. The meeting was attended among others by Secretary National Health Services Muhammad Ayub Sheikh, Polio Teams Leaders of WHO & UNICEF and senior Government officers.