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Pakistan committed to eradicate polio disease from the country: Nafees Zakaria | Associated Press of Pakistan (APP).

[March 12, 2020]

LONDON, Mar 12 (APP):Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK),Mohammad Nafees Zakaria has said that Pakistan was committed to eradicating the crippling Polio disease from the country with the support of partners like Rotary International.

He said this while addressing a big gathering of a reception hosted in the honour of Mark Maloney,President of Rotary International here at the premises of High Commission on Wednesday evening.

The event was organized by Pakistan High Commission London in collaboration with World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis (WCOP) to
recognize and acknowledge the services of Rotary International for eradication of Polio from the world including Pakistan.

Those spoke on the occasion among others included,President of Rotary International Mark Maloney, Senior Health Advisor, DFID UK Ms.Susan Elden, National Chair ,Pakistan Polio Plus Committee, Aziz Memon,Chairman WCOP Syed Qamar Raza, and Executive Director COWP Arif Anis Malik.

The ceremony was attended by Councillors, Diplomats, British Pakistani diaspora, members of British Conservative friends of Pakistan,health experts and members of Rotary International and WCOP.

Speaking on the occasion , and welcoming the participants ,Mohammad Nafees Zakaria appreciated the conservative friends of Pakistan for their role in putting together this gathering and the assistance they have extended to the High Commission.

The High Commissioner said “We live in times of unthinkable technological advancements creating a whole new set of opportunities for the mankind to prosper” .

He added that rapidly expanding prosperity has allowed mass movement of individuals across the national borders.

He said that yet these advantages had led to challenges in the form of globalization of diseases across a whole new range of geographical space.

“With the global attention focused towards the spread of Corona virus,I am highly grateful to all of you and acknowledge the efforts of our international partners in eradication of Polio from Pakistan”, he remarked.

Mohammad Nafees Zakaria,highlighting the efforts of the government of Pakistan for the eradication of polio, said that the government was fully alive to the challenges posed by this crippling disease from the country.

“Government’s Polio Eradication Programme has been fighting to end this disease from the country”, he remarked.

Nafees Zakaria informed the audience that this programme was driven by up to 260,000 polio vaccinators ,the largest health service provider network of its kind in the world.

“Array of approaches and tools are implemented by the government of Pakistan reach the finish line of the zero polio cases”, he remarked.

He further said that these approaches and tools were outlined in the National Polio Eradication Programme (NPEP) with specific objectives,targets milestones and indicators that guide the programme to its goals of zero-polio.

The High Commissioner further said that the programme’s senior official reports directly to the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

He also informed the gathering that due to sustained vaccination drives there has been a significant decline in polio cases in Pakistan from reportedly approximately 20,000 every year in the early 1990s to only 146 cases in 2019.

“Sustained campaign and vaccination is expected to bring down the number to zero”, he remarked.

Nafees Zakaria said that government was ensuring children aged five were vaccinated against this disease in every door to door campaign.

He also informed that given the frequent population movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan ,the programme was also focused on the fully synchronizing and coordinating its operations with the Afghan polio eradication programme.

Nafees Zakaria on the occasion appreciated the support extended to Pakistan by its international partners in this fight against Polio, including Rotary International :GVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) United Nations Foundation and Bill Gates and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“A Polio free Pakistan and Afghanistan means a Polio free world”, he remarked.He quoting World Health Organization (WHO) said “the eradication of Polio would save at least US $ 40-50 billion , mostly in low income countries.And the humanitarian benefits would be sustained for the future generations and no child would ever again be affected by this terrible disease”.

Speaking on the occasion Aziz Memon said that present government in Pakistan was focusing on the eradication of polio from the country,
besides providing better health, education and other basic amenities of
life to improve quality of life of the people in the country.

He added that for eradication of polio disease door to door campaign was being undertaken with the support of armed forces to achieve the objective.

He appreciated the role and support of Rotary International to Pakistan’s efforts and programmes for eliminating polio disease from the country.

In her remarks Senior Health Advisor, DFID UK Ms.Susan Elden said that UK has allocated £ 400 million for a global strategy to fight diseases like polio.

She assured Pakistan for working closely in its efforts to eradicate polio from the country.

In their remarks Syed Qamar Raza and Arif Anis Malik of WCOP appreciated the efforts and joint collaboration of Rotary International and Government of Pakistan for the eradication of Polio from the country.

Arif Anis expressed the hope if this effort continued Pakistan would become a polio free country in two to three years in the world.

Speaking on the occasion, President Rotary International Mark Maloney thanked Pakistan High Commissioner to United Kingdom Mohammad Nafees Zakaria for hosting a reception for him.

He reiterated his commitment and global effort to work and fight against polio across the world including Pakistan till its eradication.

“We are committed to vaccinating all children from the world”, he remarked.

He also highlighted his global efforts for the eradication of polio from the globe”.

He said that Rotary International has raised US $ 2.1 billion to eradicate the disease from the globe.

The President Rotary International Mark Maloney appreciated Pakistan for its efforts and programmes for the eradication of Polio from the country.

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Pakistan: Punjab Set To Immunize Over 9 M Children Against Polio From March 16 | UrduPoint.

[Fri 13th March 2020] Sumaira FH writes:

MULTAN, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 13th Mar, 2020 ) :A five-day sub national polio immunization drive (SNID) is set to begin from Monday, March 16, in 15 districts of province, Punjab Polio programme incharge Sundas Irshad said in a statement on Friday.

"Due to recent polio cases we are making sure that affected districts, as well as all adjoining districts are covered for immunization in the upcoming SNID round. We want to make sure children of affected districts are immunized against polio, and further spread of polio virus is interrupted", informed Ms Sundas.

The districts where polio eradication campaign will be held include: Lahore, Rawalpindi, Mianwali, DG Khan, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, Layyah, Faisalabad, Kasur, Nankana Sahib, Okara, Sahiwal and Sheikhupura.

Polio virus circulation is detected in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, DG khan and Rajanpur districts of Punjab, which puts our children at risk for polio virus.

"we will continue our efforts until polio is eradicated," she elaborated.

The provincial Emergency Operations Centre for polio eradication has constituted over 20,509 teams who will go door-to- door and will be deployed at major hospitals and crossing points to vaccinate over nine million children of less than five years of age in the province, she said.

The polio programme incharge further said to facilitate parents a 24-hour polio helpline 1166 has been established.

In addition to the helpline, parents may register complaints or ask queries on Whatsapp number 03467776546 and social media accounts using hashtags #PakFightsPolio and @polioeradicationinitiative.

Ahead of the campaign Sundas assured parents that polio vaccine is safe, effective and approved by the government's drug regulatory authorities.

She emphasized the need for all children to be immunized during every round of immunization campaign.

Punjab polio programme chief said to eradicate polio they need to carry the same momentum they saw in the February NID 2020. In 2019, 12 children were parlaysed due to the polio in Punjab from Jelhum, DG Khan, Muzaffargarh, Okara and Lahore.

In 2020 Punjab has so far reported only one case of polio from district DG Khan, whereas 29 polio cases have been reported in the country so far.

Globally, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two remaining polio endemic countries in the world.

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Polio this week as of 11 March 2020 | GPEI via ReliefWeb,

[Source: GPEI] [Published: 11 Mar 2020] [Origin: View Original]

  • Do you miss the Coffee with polio experts video series? Well we have a new one for you this time with Dr. Hamid Jafari, Director of Polio Eradication for the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, who tells us about the steps being taken against polio in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region.

Summary of new viruses this week (AFP cases and environmental samples):

-Afghanistan: one WPV1 positive environmental sample
- Pakistan: four WPV1 cases and 13 WPV1 positive environmental samples
- Angola: one cVDPV2 case
- Chad: Seven cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
- Côte d’Ivoire: one cVDPV2 positive environmental sample
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: three cVDPV2 cases
- Ghana: one cVDPV2 case

Download report (PDF | 732.94 KB)

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Pakistan: Our polio failure | Opinion | The News International.

[March 13, 2020] Fauzia Waqar writes:

The continued transmission of the poliovirus in Pakistan has become a major public health problem, as it is one of only few remaining polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan.

Nigeria, a third polio-endemic country, has gone three years without a reported infection, placing it on track to be certified polio-free by 2020. On the other hand, unfortunately Pakistan is today reporting more cases than the past numbers of identified cases.

An analysis of data on confirmed polio cases in the last decade shows that the situation was relatively better after the launch of the World Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988 and shows a decrease of 70-75 percent in number of polio cases than before.

The situation was under control but the condition got worse in 2008, when the number of cases jumped from 32 in 2007 to 117 and after that there has been a continuous increase till now. Unicef Pakistan, in collaboration with the WHO and the Government of Pakistan, has taken the lead to implement and intensify communication and social mobilization interventions in the country to counter the threat Pakistan poses to the goal of polio eradication under the Global Polio Initiative.

The initiative is the multinational partnership between the WHO, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Unicef, Rotary International and national governments. It aims to address polio-affected countries to undertake all eradication activities with major strategic planning, coordination and data collection carried out by the WHO.

Many factors are attributed to the persisting situation of polio in Pakistan. Insufficient EPI coverage, reduction in vaccination campaigns and influx of population from areas with low immunity underlie this resurgence of the disease. Unmonitored cross-border movement between Afghanistan and Pakistan is also considered a major cause.

The worst outbreak of polio in Pakistan occurred in 2014, when 2020 victims of the disease were identified. The government alleged free movement of residents of both endemic countries responsible for the increase of the disease. Moreover, the Taliban declaring the polio vaccination as a Western agenda, prohibiting it and attacking vaccination teams’ further worsened the situation. Though making a fence along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2017 is a political agenda, at the same time the government also claimed it as a preventive measure to gain the objective of limiting free cross-border movement – hence avoiding the spread of the disease. Conspiracy theories that consider polio vaccines as a Western agenda also persist in communities, leading to refusal of receiving vaccination in varying intensity all over the country. High refusal rates are observed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Failure to eradicate polio is a symptom of system-wide weakness of management. It shows that, despite providing financial resources, failure may occur at any of the multiple levels of authority to direct staff and achieve results. It seems that a wide range – from deficiency of capacities in public staff to lack of political commitment with low coverage in the media are eluding the efforts.

The recent outbreak of dengue fever also reflects the same level of effort and interest at different points. These frequent occurrences show a desperate need to address the endemics on an emergency basis, otherwise they may worsen if appropriate measures are not adopted. Reviewing the past reports, surveys or researches, it is clearly shown that either information triggers were not activated or because of some political issues or low response by the government, many cases are coming to the surface now.

In order to eradicate the disease completely, there is a need for evidence-based and planned communication strategies – including efforts like sustained media campaigns, intensive community and social mobilization, interpersonal communication and political and national advocacy which should be focused to make the country polio free.

Strategies are required to overcome gender barriers and resistance of vaccination and special initiatives to reach out to marginalized communities. At the same time, increasing accountability of health authorities is also likely to provide positive gains. And these efforts should be continued and sustained even if zero cases are achieved.

Polio is a highly infectious, disabling and potentially deadly disease. The medium to spread is the poliomyelitis virus in areas with poor hygiene and sanitation. It occurs through contaminated food and water. In order to fight with the disease, there are only preventive interventions with immunization at an early age and no curative measures.

It mainly impacts young children and can disable them for their whole lives. Pakistan, one of the only two countries left with the disease should have top priority to combat the disease for a healthy population in the future.

The writer is a public health consultant.


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Pakistan: 2,175 cops to guard polio teams in Mardan | The News International.

[March 13, 2020]

MARDAN: Around 2,175 policemen have been assigned the security duties with health workers for the polio campaign starting from March 16 across the district.

Speaking to journalists at Mardan Press Club, District Police Officer Sajjad Khan said that a special control room had been set up in DPO offices for security of polio campaign. On behalf of police, the DPO gifted a portrait of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to the press club on the occasion.

“For the polio campaign, the entire Mardan district has been divided into five circles and 15 subdivisions and 289 teams would be working in sensitive areas,” he added. He said the control room would receive calls and messages 24/7 about any security issues to polio workers. He said the rapid response force had been alerted and for the first time Basic Health Units would also be provided security by the law enforcers.

He said that overall law and order in the district was under control. He said police and press had always enjoyed cordial relations and the police would always heed the journalists’ suggestions to maintain law and order.

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