Islamabad, August 20, 2015 - In a National Launch ceremony of the Injectable Polio Vaccine introduction in Routine Immunization, Minister for National Health Services Saira AfzalTarar said that the vaccine would augment efforts to stop polio virus transmission and strengthen routine immunization in the country.

While addressing the participants, Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar said that the National Emergency Action Plan 2015-16 endorsed by Prime Minister of Pakistan has clear indicators for Routine Immunization coverage. “NEAP gives us guiding principles 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.  There is also a need to focus on routine immunization to sustain gains made so far”, she further added.

The national launch of IPV introduction in Routine Immunization was held in Islamabad today. Addressing the gathering Director General Health Dr. Assad Hafeez said the vaccine has been included in the country’s Routine Immunization schedule and will be given to children at the age of 14 weeks alongside other life-saving vaccines. More than four million children per year will benefit from the introduction of the IPV in Pakistan. The ceremony was attended by Government officials, development partners and a select gathering of civil society and media representatives.

Minister also appreciated all development partners and said that all partners, health experts and top ranking professionals are on the same page that strengthening Routine Immunization is a way forward to achieve Polio free Pakistan and to sustain the polio free status.

Minister said, Pakistan is one of three countries in the world where polio remains endemic. Nigeria, which recently marked one year without a case of wild polio, introduced the vaccine earlier this year and Afghanistan is due to begin using IPV in the coming weeks. The universal introduction of IPV is part of the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018. It contributes to the eradication of polio and secures the gains made against the disease through stronger immunization systems.

Dr. Syed Saqlain Ahmad Gilani, National Program Manager, EPI in his remarks said that Polio endgame strategy aims at introducing one dose of IPV in Routine Immunization to take polio to the finish point. As per the international commitment 126 countries are going to introduce IPV in the Routine Immunization schedule by the end of year 2015 and it is a proud moment that we have fulfilled our international commitment.