Islamabad, 4 July 2017 - To capitalize on the best ever polio epidemiology, Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Programme is sharpening its tools to launch the final offensive against the crippling virus, said Muhammad Ayub Sheikh, Secretary, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination.

At the review meeting of the National Stop Transmission of Polio (N-STOP) Programme officers; Ayub Sheikh congratulated the programme on making substantial progress during last low transmission season and urged for sustained performance everywhere and maintaining extreme degree of vigilance to detect and aggressively respond to the cunning virus.

Welcoming the participants of the review meeting, Dr. Rana Jawad Asgher, Resident Advisor to the Field Epidemiology & Laboratory Training Program (FELTP) highlighted the role of N-STOP initiative in strengthening federal and provincial human resource which is assisting the Government of Pakistan in controlling communicable diseases including, polio and vaccine preventable diseases.

National Coordinator of the Emergency operations Centre (EOC) for polio Eradication Dr. Rana Safdar highlighted how the ‘One Team’ approach adopted by the EOC network had actualized polio turn around in the country. “This has clearly been a game changer bringing cases down from 306 to 54 in 2015 and lowest ever 20 in 2016. The momentum has further been maintained in 2017 where the current case count of two compares to 13 during corresponding period last year,” Dr Safdar stated.

“Decline in cases and positive environmental samples as well as the shrinking genetic diversity are all positive signs. We are however, chasing zero which requires further hard work to make it happen during next six months,” he cautioned.

The N-STOP is a collaborative initiative of the Government of Pakistan, FELTP, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta. The programme trains and deploys Government Public Health Officers in critical polio districts to serve as key technical support persons with the Deputy Commissioners.

The review meeting was attended by District Polio Control Room (DPCR) focal persons from critical districts of the country, NEOC Coordinator, 65 N-STOP officers, national leads of WHO and UNICEF, Resident Advisor FELTP as well as the representative from Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, intense preparations are underway for a special targeted campaign in vulnerable pockets of 73 districts / towns / agencies across the country. Phase-1 of the campaign (10-13 July) covers Rawalpindi-Islamabad as well as select areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA, AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Interior Sindh. Phase-2 (17-20 July) will cover 8 districts of Balochistan, Karachi, Badin, Sujawal & Thatta whereas the Quetta Block will conduct the campaign from 24-30 July. The program will target a total of 10.44 million under five children (0.829 million in Punjab, 4 million in Sindh, 2.93 million in KP, 1.368 million in Balochistan, 0.342 million in FATA, 0.453 million in AJK, 0.132 million in GB and 0.31 million children in Islamabad. A total of 75,000 personnel will strive to achieve set targets across Pakistan including 8,026 Area Incharges, 2,396 UC Medical Officers, 55,465 Mobile, 3,168 Fixed and 3,954 Transit team members.

The National EOC leadership has urged the teams to strive all out to make the best out of this important campaign. The leadership has also requested the communities and especially the parents to facilitate frontline workers (Sehat Muhafiz) in this noble cause.