ISLAMABAD, 31 May 2022 – Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel, together with Health Secretary Aamir Ashraf Khawaja and Special Secretary Iftikhar Shalwani visited the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) on Thursday and met the team leading polio eradication efforts in the country.

“It is a pleasure to see such a professionally run institution in Pakistan. This visit was a great opportunity to engage with staff members of the polio eradication programme and understand the highly complex challenges that persist. We need open conversations and continued engagement to reach the end of polio in Pakistan,” Minister Qadir Patel said.

“Polio is a distant memory in most parts of the world and it must become a disease of the past in Pakistan too. Our goal is to reach every last child with the polio vaccine and ensure a polio-free world for our future generations,” he said.

Earlier this month, the health minister had also visited Bannu to meet the families of the children affected by wild polio.

“Polio eradication is among our highest priorities and at this time it is crucial to amplify our efforts and reach the end of polio in Pakistan,” said Health Secretary Aamir Ashraf Khawaja.

 “We can no longer harbour a disease that paralyses our children when we can save them with a very simple and safe vaccine,” Special Secretary Iftikhar Shalwani added.

The Minister and Secretaries appreciated the live surveillance of the polio programme during their visit to the Polio Control Room.

While providing a programme overview, NEOC Coordinator Dr Shahzad Baig acknowledged the continued support of the Government for polio eradication efforts. “With all stakeholders committed to polio eradication and continued oversight from the most senior federal leadership, I am certain that will be able to make Pakistan polio-free.”

This year, six children have been paralysed by polio in North Waziristan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Note for the Editor:

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free.

Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan.

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