Islamabad - July 6, 2015 : Minister for National Health Services Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar chaired a high level meeting with key government officials of Balochistan in Quetta and reviewed the progress of Polio Eradication Initiative.

The meeting attended by PM’s Focal Person on Polio Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq and officials from Government of Balochistan includes Chief Secretary, Minister Health, Secretary Health, Federal and Provincial Coordinators for EOC, Army Representative, District Health Team, and Representatives from WHO and UNICEF.

Minister of National Health Services Regulations & Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar said Balochistan needs to work hard on improving and strengthening the Routine Immunization coverage as it stands at the lowest in comparison to other provinces.

She said it is a cause for concern that out of 12 “Tier-1” highest risk districts in Pakistan, 4 are in Balochistan.

There will have to be high quality of preparatory work ahead of the next campaign in these districts with supportive supervisions and monitoring by the Provincial EOC and leadership of the Provincial Government.

Minister said, current strategy has greater focus on the frontline workers morale. In this regard, we have taken an initiative of holding vaccinators conventions across the country to acknowledge the polio teams and boost their morale. We would request the Balochistan team to take the lead in organising such a convention for Quetta Block to recognise the efforts of the Frontline workers and listen to their concerns.

She also request that the Government of Balochistan maintain close coordination with Afghanistan regions for high quality campaigns on both sides of the border and improved vaccination arrangements at borders with Afghanistan as well as for the outbound travellers to Iran.

Minister said, We have no option to achieve the objectives of maintaining and increasing immunity against polio throughout Pakistan by implementing high quality campaigns, to stop virus transmission in all reservoirs and to prevent establishment of poliovirus circulation in rest of the country.

She said Balochistan demonstrated the capacity to stop transmission twice in the past and we also expect from the present leadership to control the outbreak situation of Quetta block with Killa Abdullah. There is also very low routine immunization coverage. We feel that there is urgent need to enhance accountability to achieve improvement on the ground.

She ensure that there is zero tolerance with regard to implementation of NEAP. The Provincial EOC Coordinators must strive hard to ensure that all missed areas and households are identified and covered by the teams.

Saira Afzal Tarar assured full support eradicate the Polio virus in Baluchistan. She also assured them that Federal Government will make it conform that adequate supply of Polio vaccine available for Baluchistan.

She said, now business is not as usual. Government and partners at all levels should come together to ensure that we see the high season through with optimal level of immunization services and are well prepared for the next low season. Each of us has a role to play in this regard.

Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq PM’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication said, I would like to here express my appreciation for Balochistan having taken the lead in introducing IPV in Polio campaigns successfully in all UCs of Quetta Block as well as 29 UCs at riverine areas of districts Naseerbad, Jaffarabad and Jhal Magsi. This was a major stride forward.

She said, Balochistan is the first province that recognised the services of frontline polio workers and took the initiative to enhance their stipend with top up out of its own resources for polio teams and supervisors.

She appreciated the steps taken by the Government of Balochistan in giving polio hero awards to the frontline workers martyred or injured in district Quetta in Nov. 2014 and in district Zhob in Feb. 2015.

She emphasised that the Government of Balochistan provides a significant number of security personnel to polio teams particularly Quetta Block in each campaign that is vital to the successful conduct of the campaign.

We must fully exploit the opportunities offered by Introduction of IPV, build synergies between Routine Immunization and Polio Eradication, introduction of Female Community Volunteers and Female Social Mobilizers in high risk areas.

Earlier in his welcome address, Minister for Health Balochistan Rehmat Saleh Baloch outlined the efforts being made by his government for control of communicable diseases and improved access of people to health services.