PESHAWAR: Governor Masood Kausar on Monday said political commitment, involvement of civil society and religious scholars were vital for translating the dream of polio-free Pakistan into reality.
Talking to the media here at the Fata Secretariat where he inaugurated a three-day anti-polio campaign in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) starting from July 16-18, he underscored the need for community involvement in the polio eradication initiative, saying that government alone could not wipe out the disease unless backed by the people.
Secretary to Governor Abid Majeed, Secretary Social Sectors Fata Dr Aftab Durrani, Director Health Services Dr Fawad Khan, acting provincial chief UNICEF Oscar Butragueno, Programme Specialist Fata Dr Rafiq and Fata Coordinator WHO Sarfaraz Afridi were present on the occasion.
The governor said polio was a national emergency that had to be addressed on war footing to make the world a safer place for children. Referring to the Fata situation, he said tribal areas had been hit hard by polio as new cases had been reported from some of the tribal regions that had security related issues. He appreciated the commitment of the health staff that went door to door to administer the two drops to the children despite security risks.
To a query regarding inaccessible areas in Bara tehsil of the Khyber Agency and ban on polio campaign in North and South Waziristan agencies, the governor said polio would have been wiped out long ago had there been no security and social issues.
He said efforts were being made to ensure availability of teams in the entire Fata so that no child was left without polio vaccination. The governor said Pakistan was a nuclear power and had significant position in the Muslim world, but was faced with the challenge of vaccine preventable disease that was a matter of shame.
He said marked decline had been witnessed in new polio cases in Fata this year and hoped the deadly disease would soon be eradicated from the region. Some 751,060 children would be vaccinated against polio in Fata in the July round for which 2,736 teams have been constituted.
The campaign has been deferred in North Waziristan and South Waziristan after announcement of ban on the anti-polio drive by the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which first demanded an end to the US drone attacks.