Doctors’ associations vow support to the Pakistan Polio Programme as it works to interrupt poliovirus transmission this year.
Islamabad, March 8, 2023 – Renowned paediatricians and medical associations have renewed full support to the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme to interrupt wild poliovirus transmission this year.
Office-bearers of the Pakistan Paediatrics Association (PPA), Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA), Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and their provincial chapters, and doctors, including paediatricians from the seven polio endemic districts of southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, pledged to promote polio vaccines and routine immunisation at a roundtable meeting held at the National Emergency Operations of Center (NEOC) for Polio Eradication in Islamabad on Tuesday.
The meeting was held to rally support from medical professionals to increase vaccine acceptance in parents and caregivers and counter negative misperceptions among communities about vaccines.
Chairing the discussion, NEOC Coordinator Dr Shahzad Baig apprised the forum about the programme’s ongoing initiatives to stamp out paralytic poliovirus from Pakistan and efforts to increase community engagement and dialogue. He appreciated physicians’ role in promoting the acceptance of vaccines among parents and caregivers and urged them to continue to be reliable voices for polio eradication.
“The polio programme in Pakistan serves as a prime example of successful collaboration between the government, healthcare providers, community members, and other stakeholders,” said Dr Shahzad Baig. “With the support of esteemed physicians and doctors like yourselves, we can develop stronger, more resilient healthcare systems by improving access to polio and routine vaccinations.”
Pledging full support, Pakistan Paediatrics Association Secretary General Dr Khalid Shafi said polio eradication is the need of the hour for Pakistan.
“As major stakeholders in child health, it is our aim to make Pakistan a safe place for children to live; for this, both essential immunisation and polio eradication are important,” he said.
Former president and executive member of PIMA Dr Abdul Majeed Memon said that PIMA considers it a national duty for doctors to support polio eradication and its members will continue to do so.
Noting some of the ways in which PIMA has supported the programme, Dr Memon said that it will continue its advocacy for vaccine acceptance and will address religious misconceptions about the vaccine.
Pakistan Medical Association Central President Dr Izhar Chaudhry also pledged support to the cause on behalf of his association.
Paediatricians and child specialists from the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were also present for the discussion and apprised the forum about the difficulties of working in the region.
Dr Shahzad Baig lauded their efforts and called on them to engage with their colleagues and help shore up support for the vaccine in their communities.
A renewed letter of intent (LoI) was signed between the NEOC, PMA, PIMA and PPA to continue to work together on polio eradication.
The meeting was attended by PMA General Secretary Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro, PMA Central President Dr Hameedullah and PPA Punjab Joint Secretary Dr Kaleem Malhi, and several other renowned physicians.
Pakistan and Afghanistan remain the only two polio-endemic countries in the world. Last year, 20 children were paralyzed by polio in Pakistan – all of them from the endemic region of southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Seventeen of these children belonged to North Waziristan alone.
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 crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunizations 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: