Islamabad, December 6, 2023 – Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said on Wednesday that Pakistan has a great responsibility on its shoulders as the world is waiting on us to interrupt wild poliovirus transmission.

Chairing a meeting of the National Taskforce for Polio Eradication at PM Office, PM Kakar said: “We are meeting at a time when we have missed the global deadline to interrupt poliovirus transmission by the end of this year. This is a sobering fact. But we cannot let that bring us down. We’ve set a new target for ourselves, and we will interrupt transmission by the middle of next year.”

This was the third meeting this year of the NTF which is a high-level forum led by the Prime Minister and includes provincial Chief Ministers, Governor KP, Prime Minister of AJK and Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan as members. The forum meets regularly to share progress on polio eradication, discuss challenges and tackle the remaining barriers to eradication. 

Appreciating the hard work and services of frontline workers, law-enforcement agencies and the Polio Programme, PM Kakar said that Pakistan must be the one to bring the globe over the polio eradication finish line to honor these services.

Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan said that while Pakistan had undoubtedly made great progress against polio, the work was far from over. “We still face monumental challenges, from vaccine hesitancy, community mistrust, low essential immunization rates to insecurity, missed children, cross-border transmission and the rising trend of demands-based boycotts. But I truly believe that these challenges are not insurmountable,” he said.

The minister added that interrupting poliovirus transmission in the endemic zone of southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will remain a priority for the upcoming year, along with closing outbreaks in other districts and ensuring no child is missed for vaccination.

Federal Health Secretary Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said the Polio Programme has remained resilient in the face of challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic, the polio outbreak and catastrophic floods of 2022, and it has the expertise and resolve needed to achieve any goal that has been set.

“Polio operations have continued with minimal disruptions during the most trying times,” he said. “To me, that reflects not just the commitment to eradication but also the collective resilience of the multitude of people who contribute day in and day out to this noble cause.”

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 immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free, except for the two endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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