Peshawar: The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) achieved a milestone on Thursday as it completed a year without reporting a single case of polio.

According to a statement issued by FATA Secretariat, the last polio case in Fata was reported on July 27, 2016.

“It is a significant milestone achieved for the first time in the history of the fight against polio in FATA,” Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra said.

The governor also applauded the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (PEI) Fata team and vaccinators for keeping FATA polio-free during the last year. Jhagra later congratulated Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Coordinator Dr Fida Muhammad Wazir for his diligent efforts and inspiring leadership for steering the programme to success despite harsh challenges. “It has been an unprecedented year of quality leadership by Dr Fida Mohammad Wazir and superior efforts of EOC Fata team and field teams who kept Fata polio free for a year,” the K-P governor said.

Dr Wazir took over as ACS FATA on July 28, 2016. Since then polio eradication has been prioritised as one of the main objectives of the local administration that resulted in maintaining peak performance throughout.

“We should continue to strive for keeping FATA polio-free for ever which is very much possible now that a lot has been achieved,” Dr Wazir said. “It is important that we keep a constant check on the mobile population as they could be a source of transmitting the virus from other regions to Fata,” he added.

The recent focus of polio programmes has been on reaching and vaccinating persistently missed children and high-risk mobile population.

EOC Fata continued that in line with the National Emergency Action Plan 2017-18, female vaccination teams are being hired with renewed focus on developing accurate micro plans so that the space for missing a single child is eliminated. He said that Fata PEI team would continue its efforts and work hard to sustain the unprecedented achievements and keep Fata polio free.

Pakistan is one of three countries in the world, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria that have endemic polio, a once-common childhood virus that can cause paralysis or death. Immunisation efforts have in the past been hampered by militants.