Islamabad, April 17, 2024 - Dr. Malik Mukhtar Ahmed Bharath, Coordinator to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, accompanied by Federal Health Secretary Mr. Nadeem Mahboob visited the National Emergency Operations Center for Polio Eradication on Wednesday to review the progress of polio eradication efforts in the country.

These senior officials met the senior leadership of the Pakistan Polio Programme, toured the NEOC Polio Control Room, and interacted with the NEOC team and leadership of provincial EOCs. They affirmed the government’s commitment to polio eradication in a meeting with the NEOC team.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Malik Mukhtar Ahmed Bharath, Coordinator to the PM on Health, said polio eradication is a priority for the Prime Minister and the Programme will continue to receive full support from the government to ensure that all challenges are addressed.

“It is unfortunate that polio remains a threat to our children even now when most of the world has eradicated it,” he said.

“Polio eradication isn’t just another item on my agenda, it is a deeply personal mission for me which is why NEOC is one of my first engagements in this new role. I’m eager to work hand in hand with all polio eradication partners and stakeholders at the NEOC and PEOCs for the well-being of our children so that every child remains free from the threat of the disability-causing poliovirus” he added.

Mr. Nadeem Mahboob, Federal Secretary for Health said, “While the progress made by the Programme is encouraging, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to reach the last milestone - that is to completely eradicate polio from Pakistan.”

Dr. Shahzad Baig, NEOC Coordinator gave a briefing to the senior officials on the current situation of polio and ongoing eradication efforts, at the national and provincial levels. He highlighted that in the past five years, the Polio Programme has made significant progress against polio. He said, “We have set two goals for this year. First, to interrupt transmission of the local YB3C poliovirus genetic cluster, by the middle of this year, and the second is to close all outbreaks of the imported YB3A virus and interrupt its transmission by the end of this year.”

“Since last year, we have implemented an intense vaccination schedule which we will continue this year to ensure children have high immunity against polio infection.” He added.

Provincial Coordinators also gave presentations on their respective progress as well as the challenges.

The NEOC leadership thanked the Coordinator to the PM and the Health Secretary for their visit and expressed their commitment to continuing to work hard to ensure the end of polio from Pakistan.

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.

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