Pakistan’s resolve to eradicate this disease and to protect all children remains unwavering: Dr Nadeem Jan

Islamabad, October 22, 2023 – In a steadfast pledge to secure the wellbeing of future generations, Federal Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan underscored Pakistan’s resolute commitment to eliminate poliovirus and protect the nation’s youth.

As we commemorate World Polio Day on October 24, the Minister led an advocacy walk in Islamabad on Sunday, uniting a diverse array of participants. Among them were representatives from the Ministry of Health, students, polio workers, civil society, leaders from the Pakistan Polio Programme, and valued partners in the fight against polio, including Rotary, WHO, UNICEF, and BMGF.

In his opening remarks, Dr Baseer Achakzai, DG Health, stated, “Today, we stand here not just as advocates for the eradication of polio but also as champions of awareness. Polio vaccination is not just a public health measure, it’s a safeguard for our children’s future. We are committed to ensuring that every child, regardless of their background or geographic location, has access to this vital vaccine. This walk signifies our collective dedication to raising awareness about the importance of polio vaccination. It is a call to action, a reminder that we must remain vigilant and resolute in this cause. Together, we can convey to the world that a polio-free future is well within our reach.”

Senator Quratulain Marri, a polio survivor, delivered a moving address. Sharing her personal journey, shedding light on the challenges of living with polio and its regressive syndrome, she said, “A decade ago, I didn't need a crutch. A decade from now, I might require a wheelchair. This is a debilitating disease. A child under five cannot articulate the pain they endure, but rest assured, it is a profoundly agonizing affliction.”

Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan emphasized, “This walk is a testament to our commitment and the unwavering dedication of our healthcare heroes who persistently immunize children, even in the face of the most daunting challenges. It is a powerful affirmation that, together, we can achieve a polio-free Pakistan.”

In addition to the critical fight against polio, Minister Dr Nadeem Jan underscored the importance of routine immunization, childhood vaccinations, and integrated health services. These efforts further bolster children’s access to comprehensive healthcare services.

Representatives from Rotary International and WHO, representing polio eradication partners in Pakistan, also addressed the gathering.

WHO Country Representative Dr Palitha Mahipala said, “It is truly heartening to stand with our frontline health workers who tirelessly reach every home in Pakistan. This work is of paramount importance as we collectively strive to eradicate the second disease in human history.”

Dr Shahzad Baig, the Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, expressed gratitude to all participants and highlighted Pakistan’s remarkable progress in the fight against polio.

This resonant advocacy walk reflects Pakistan’s unwavering dedication to ending polio, securing the health of our children, and ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.