Islamabad, November 20, 2014 - In a high-level Consultative meeting at Federal and District level; action plans have been developed to dramatically reduce the polio virus in the next six months of the low transmission season, enabling a polio-free Pakistan by end-2015.

Provincial representatives from the highest-risk reservoirs have produced detailed plans to ensure they have the right teams in place, monitoring mechanisms and a stringent accountability framework to make significant strides from this December to May, when the virus is at its most vulnerable.

Concluding the session, Honourable Minister of Health, Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar called on all parents to vaccinate their children against polio in the multiple polio immunization campaigns planned from December to May. “We are all here to save our own children and we have no choice but to make this happen. All children must be reached with polio vaccine so that Pakistan can be polio-free in 2015.”

The consultative workshop was attended by Minister National Health Services, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio, Secretary MoNHSRC, key health officials, Provincial representatives including Khawaja Salman Rafique from Punjab, Mr. Rehmat Saleh Baloch from Balochistan and Mrs. Shahnaz Wazir Ali from Sindh. A Representative from GHQ, UAE government and all development partners also participated in the session to share their contribution in the efforts to win the fight against polio in Pakistan.

The Minister of State for National Health Services made her zero-tolerance approach to poor performance very clear: “We are mindful of the international concern and the focus on Pakistan and we should be accountable to our own children, communities and families. Therefore there can be no excuse for not achieving success or under-performing”.

Appreciating the efforts being made by the provinces and partners, the Minister said that there was no doubt there was strong commitment in the provinces but she stressed the need for renewed effort and determination.

The Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio presented an overview of all the high-risk plans put together by the provinces. Discussing the objectives of the consultative workshop, Ms. Ayesha said it was organized to identify the key barriers and prioritize the necessary actions in the highest priority areas for the upcoming low season. A monitoring framework for the implementation process was also finalized in the meeting. Ms. Ayesha Raza Farooq stressed that the full implementation of the Action Plans should start from the December NIDs until May 2015.
The Secretary MoNHSRC also congratulated the efforts of the provincial teams: “In the face of the most daunting challenges, we cannot be doing business as usual, we need to adapt new and innovative strategies”.

Lt. General Khalid Asghar assured the Workshop of the full support of the Army in helping to ensure all children in security compromised areas could be accessed and vaccinated against polio.