Mr. Toru Arai, Director General of South Asia Department of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) HQ visits National Emergency Operation Center in Islamabad last week.

During the visit, Toru Arai expressed appreciation for the significant progress made by Pakistan in the fight against polio and emphasized the importance of continued support to Pakistan in its pursuit to rid the country of the menace of polio.

Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar briefed the delegates about Emergency Operation Center (EOC) structure, schedules of national and sub national campaigns, vaccine cold storage chain management, surveillance and monitoring structures. “Emergency Operations Centers have become instrumental in bringing about marked difference in the quality of campaigns across Pakistan resultantly cornering the polio virus in just three areas,” he informed the delegate.

The JICA officials were also briefed on polio procurement and its cold-chain management besides taking them through cold storage specially build for polio vaccine.

Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar thanked the JICA and the Government of Japan for the continued support to Pakistan towards polio eradication.  “Pakistan is edging ever closer to interrupting indigenous transmission but interruption and eradication are recognized as zero sum games and we are not yet at zero.  Government of Pakistan remains fully committed to stay the course until eradication and to continue to systematically address the remaining residual risks.”

He 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 polio eradication programme has undertaken key strategic shift from quantity to quality campaigns, moving the focus to the continuously missed children, putting the frontline worker at the center of the eradication effort and the establishment of the Emergency Operations Centers to bring greater coordination, planning and oversight for operations which has led to the improvements seen in 2015 and 2016.