ISLAMABAD, SEP 28, 2022 – Partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and Donors met in Islamabad to assess the needs of the Pakistan Polio Programme and discuss the path forward for eradication.
Speaking to country representatives and global polio partners, Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said that the children of Pakistan need more support than ever. “The current humanitarian crisis in the country has affected at least 16 million children. In these times, it is more crucial than ever to protect them from the risk of lifelong paralysis caused by polio,” he said.
Representatives from donor countries reaffirmed their commitment and said it was because of years of support to global polio eradication efforts that the world is now over 99% polio-free. More efforts need to be made for Pakistan and Afghanistan to make the final push and eliminate the disease from the world.
This year, polio endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, have had 22 children paralyzed by wild polio. In Pakistan, 17 polio cases have been reported from North Waziristan alone, with the last case confirmed in a 10-month boy by the National Institute of Health on Wednesday.
“Despite the number of wild poliovirus cases in southern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the programme has managed to protect children from polio in other parts of the country. This highlights the strength of the programme that needs more support as they revise strategies and reach displaced populations in wake of the floods,” he added.
“With over 33 million people affected by the floods and such large-scale displacement, we expect wild poliovirus transmission to spread,” said National Emergency Operations Centre Dr Shahzad Baig. “It is crucial to support polio eradication at this point and interrupt transmission.”
The polio programme is contributing to flood relief efforts by conducting health camps in calamity-hit districts that offer basic clinical services and routine immunization antigens for children and pregnant women.
The meeting was attended by representatives of ISDB, Rotary International, German Embassy, Canadian Embassy, Norwegian Embassy, USAID, European Union, JICA and British High Commission.
An estimated 20 million people have been protected from polio since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988.
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, besides the two endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Zulfiqar Babakhel, Media Manager, NEOC, 0345-9165937