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Former UN staffer being tipped as PM’s focal person for polio

By Our Correspondent
October 09, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Babar Bin Atta, a close aide of Prime Minister Imran Khan and a communication and advocacy specialist who remained associated with the Polio Eradication Programme in that position from 2016 to 2014, is likely to occupy the slot of the Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication, a coveted position that was held by Ayesha Raza Farooq in the previous government’s tenure.

According to sources privy to the development, Babar was a key member of the communications team that designed the public perception campaign of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI). He also conceived and implemented ‘Sheat Ka Insaf,’ one of Pakistan’s largest public health initiatives focused on child immunization, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In 2009, he designed the communications and advocacy component of the PM’s Action Plan on Polio Eradication. This was the first time that the National Highways and Motorways Police, Pakistan Postal Services, and several telecommunication companies voluntarily came together to support a national public health initiative.

When contacted, Babar confirmed being considered for the slot. He expressed confidence that Pakistan, with the support of its international partners, will be able to obtain riddance from the disease if the challenges that have prevented it from achieving the required level of success in the past are proactively overcome.

“Even a single polio case at this stage is a case too many. The number of cases may have significantly declined but we can neither afford complacency, nor get into a celebratory mode till every eligible child is reached,” Babar stated, promising “Given a chance, I shall make sure we get there.”