Islamabad, 25 August 2016 - The International Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has recognized major improvements in performance of the Pakistan polio eradication programme, a transformation from its position three years ago.


The report of the 13th meeting of the IMB highlighted the year on year improvements for the programme in Pakistan: a 59% reduction in cases, a reduction in the proportion of polio positive environmental samples, an overall increase in campaign quality and a reduction in the proportion of missed children, but voiced concern in reaching the goal of interrupting transmission in 2016 without further intensified efforts.


The Government of Pakistan welcomes the recommendations of the IMB, echoing its call for an intense push towards peak performance across all areas of the programme over the next six months.


Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tararsaid that Pakistan is committed to addressing the remaining challenges and ending polio transmission in Pakistan in 2016.


“The IMB has recognized how far Pakistan has come which is clearly due to the strong political will and commitment shown by the country's leadership which has trickled down to all levels of responsibility and effected change. We must commit ourselves to nothing less than leaving no child unvaccinated and vulnerable to this crippling virus,” Tararsaid.


The National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) 2016-2017, which is driving programme operations, risk assessment and management, oversight and accountability for the Pakistan programme, lays out an ambitious plan to tackle the remaining gaps, also identified by the latest IMB, report head-on.


“Under the NEAP, Pakistan is focused on improving the capacity and reach of its surveillance system to effectively transform it into a “surveillance system for eradication”, which includes an expanded workforce to meet the needs of the programme, more effective Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance and more innovative ways to expand environment sampling to detect and respond to circulation,” Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq said.


She added that the programme is using the Emergency Operation Centres across Pakistan, that have provided an essential platform for Government staff and GPEI partners to come together as ‘one team under one roof’, to ensure key leadership is aligned to the urgency of the task ahead and engaged at all levels of the programme.


The Pakistan programme remains dedicated to strengthening operational collaboration across the shared reservoir areas with Afghanistan and ensuring that gaps in performance across the programme are addressed with urgency.


The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) was convened in November 2010 at the request of the World Health Assembly to monitor and guide the progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s 2010-2012 Strategic Plan. The IMB releases quarterly reports to provide an honest and transparent external assessment of the progress being made towards polio eradication.