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November 10, 2018

Army to provide security in polio eradication campaign

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November 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Army has articulated its commitment to provide security and enabling environment for the success of the polio eradication campaign in the country.

The resolve was expressed in a meeting of the National Task Force on Polio Eradication held at the Prime Minister Office (PMO) on Friday, and it was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said on the occasion that Polio incidence is a very serious issue for the country as it jeopardizes the future of our children. He urged the provincial governments to enhance efforts for complete polio eradication through spearheading of the campaigns preferably at the level of chief ministers, coordinated community level engagements by involving prominent local elders and religious scholars.

The prime minister emphasised that the Task Force meetings should be held more frequently to effectively oversee the progress and to achieve zero incidence in the shortest possible time frame. The meeting was attended by Federal Ministers Amir Mehmood Kiani, KP Governor Shah Farman, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Gilgit Baltistan Chief Minister Hafiz Hafizur Rehman, Pakistan Army Engineer-in Chief Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal, Minister for Health AJ&K Dr Najeeb Naqi Khan, provincial chief secretaries, UNICEF Country Representatives Ms Aida Girma, WHO Country Head Dr Nima Saeed Abid, representatives of partner organisations and senior officials.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta briefed the Task Force, in detail, about the current situation and the future Polio eradication strategy. It was informed that Pakistan’s efforts for polio eradication have been recognized world over as polio cases have recorded an exponential decline since 1994 onwards. The participants were informed that the main factors contributing towards Polio incidence in Pakistan were cross-border movement from Afghanistan, poverty, poor sanitation, low coverage of routine birth immunisation, access & security threats and most importantly misconceptions that results in refusal of immunisation. Regarding the future course of action, it was briefed that the strategy needs to be implemented at the grass-root levels with targeted awareness campaigns, countering propaganda and high level engagements with decision makers and religious scholars. Chief Ministers of Punjab, Sindh and Giglit Baltistan apprised the Task Force regarding measures taken at the provincial level for Polio eradication.

Pakistan Army Engineer-in-Chief Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal said that Pakistan Army will continue to provide security and an enabling environment for the success of Polio eradication campaigns in areas with security issues. Dr Christopher Maher, Manager, Polio Eradication WHO praised the high level presence, efforts and support of the government, provincial governments and security forces regarding polio eradication. He also commended the integration of Polio Eradication Programme (PEP) with education, sanitation and other related sectors. The Prime Minister reiterated the government’s commitment towards a Polio free Pakistan and assured that federal government will provide every possible support in achieving this target. He thanked the international partner agencies for providing technical and financial support to PEP.

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