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Pakistan, Afghanistan to enhance cooperation to end polio

National

December 16, 2020

Islamabad: Pakistan and Afghanistan will further enhance cross-border cooperation in 2021 and synchronize campaign schedule in order to successfully eradicate the polio virus at the national and regional levels.

This was decided at a video conference held Tuesday between the polio eradication teams of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The teams agreed to continue sharing information and synchronization of campaign dates in 2021 to tackle poliovirus transmission effectively.

With intertwined communities and massive population movements between Pakistan and Afghanistan, continued alignment of the vaccination schedule of both countries is critical to stop transmission of the virus.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan are committed to working together as one team to tackle poliovirus transmission.

Historically, such cooperation has played a major role in reducing the number of polio cases, and we are eager to maintain it,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Rana Safdar, the Coordinator of the

National Emergency Operations Centre of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme and EPI.

Following up from the last meeting held in September, the teams analyzed challenges and opportunities and further agreed to apprise each other on polio eradication progress and coordination.

Such cross-border cooperation has been contributing significantly to improve both countries’ capacity to track the polio virus and vaccinate susceptible children, especially amongst mobile populations who frequently travel across the Pak-Afghan border.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are currently the only two countries in the world that continue to report polio cases.

The Polio programme has prioritized coordination between these two countries across the shared epidemiological block.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the polio eradication campaigns and vaccinations at permanent transit points and cross border vaccination sites were totally suspended in both countries until August 2020.