Sunday January 23, 2022

Oversight Board impressed by Pakistan’s progress in polio eradication

December 03, 2021

Islamabad : The Polio Oversight Board (POB)—the highest decision-making and oversight body of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)—concluded its mission to Pakistan, deeply impressed by the government’s commitment to eradicating polio and the progress made by the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI).

The POB It brings together senior leadership of the six GPEI partner agencies—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, US Centers for Disease Control, Gavi, Rotary International, UNICEF, and the World Health Organisation—along with a representative of the GPEI’s donor community.

The delegation met Prime Minister Imran Khan, discussing the current and future strategy of polio eradication from the country. The POB thanked the PM for his leadership and the government’s continued support for polio eradication, highlighting in particular, the PM’s direct engagement with district commissioners in high-risk areas. Pakistan’s laser focus on core reservoirs and 25 high-risk districts for the poliovirus is critical to stopping virus transmission. Beside the in-kind contribution worth $100 million per annum, the Government of Pakistan will be contributing $192 million to PEI during the next five years.

“We have benefited enormously from the experience gained during COVID and I’m confident that we will also give a death blow to the polio virus,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said during the National Task Force meeting, which included representation from all provinces, the Pakistan Army, the Ministry of Health, the POB and leadership of PEI and the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI).

In his final meeting with all representatives of the POB, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr. Faisal Sultan, said: “I am deeply touched by your concern and have deep gratitude for your care, and financial and intellectual contributions to the children of Pakistan.”

“Polio eradication in Pakistan is at a critical juncture. The POB’s visit was an excellent opportunity for us to combine and capitalise on our collective strengths towards reaching the end of the last mile for polio eradication,” said NEOC Coordinator Dr. Shahzad Baig. “In all aspects of eradication efforts from surveillance to the sharp reduction in number of cases, the key word is ‘sustained’. We must work to sustain our gains,” he added. So far this year, Pakistan has reported only one wild poliovirus case. The delegation also met Engineer-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Moazzam Ijaz, thanking him for the consistent support of the Pakistan Army in ensuring the safety of frontline polio workers and the key role it played in the current progress to eradication.