Islamabad - Federal Minister of National Health Services Regulations (NHS&R) said on Wednesday that Afghanistan has sought formal collaboration with Pakistan to help control the spread of polio virus in the country.

The statement issued said that Director General (DG) World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom, also announced that the establishment of a new high-level global Commission on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), to be chaired by Dr Sania Nishtar from Pakistan.

Dr Nishtar is a global advocate for action against NCDs, who served as a Federal Minister during the caretaker government of 2013 with responsibility for health, science and technology, information technology and higher education.

With the region experiencing an unprecedented increase in the magnitude and scale of crises, humanitarian emergencies were discussed on the agenda of the first day. More than 50 per cent of global Grade 3 emergencies were witnessed in the region with other countries experienced a mix of chronic and acute emergencies.  Refugees in the region total 15.7 million while 18 million people are internally displaced. The huge population movement is overwhelming the health systems of host communities and neighbouring countries.

Talking to The Nation, the minister said that in the ongoing Regional Committee meeting of the 64th session for the Eastern Mediterranean region, a number of countries sought collaboration with Pakistan for the exchange of health services in different areas.  She said that Afghan delegation praising the polio elimination program of Pakistan sought a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ministry to control the ‘virus smuggling’.

The delegation of Yemen was similarly interested in the training of doctors and admission of Yemeni students in Pakistani medical colleges.

Sudan was also interested in reaching an agreement for the import of medicine from Pakistan and adopting price controlling system implemented by Pakistan.

During the conference, an update on polio eradication in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the Region highlighted the success of polio supplementary immunization activities in 2017 in restricting transmission.

WHO Regional Director Dr Mahmoud Fikri presented the annual report on the work of the Regional Office in 2016.

He focused on important milestones achieved in response to the five strategic priorities and outlined WHO support to health systems strengthening to achieve universal health coverage.

The regional director focused on the regional roadmap that translated his vision into a set of strategic actions to guide WHO’s work with the Member States.

“Our aim is to ensure that WHO continues to deliver and provide support to countries and I look forward to working with all of you to realize this vision”, Dr Fikri said.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Red Crescent Society, on Wednesday, asked Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) for assistance in the treatment of over 600 children suffering from various serious diseases, an official said.

The appeal was made by an Afghan delegation led by the ARCS President, Dr Mirwaiz Akram and Director General Dr Nilab Mubariz, during a meeting with Federal Minister for Safron Lt Gen (R) Abdul Qadir Baloch at his office here.

Chairman PRCS Dr Saeed Elahi headed the delegation while PRCS Secretary General Ghulam Muhammad Awan was also present on the occasion.

Dr Saeed Elahi said that both societies were cooperating with each other for the welfare and education of Afghan refugees in Pakistan while also working within their domains.

The minister told the Afghan delegation that the government was imparting technical education to the Afghan students under a three-month program.

He said that the Afghan students interested in pursuing further education in Pakistan were not only enrolled in the higher education institutions without any hindrance but also given stipends to help them overcome financial difficulties.

Mirwaiz Akram said the Afghan people were deeply indebted to the government and people of Pakistan for their services and considered Pakistan their second home.

He said over 600 Afghan children suffering from chronic diseases wished for their treatment through the good offices of the PRCS.

Dr Nilab Mubariz said she was highly impressed by the PRCS services such as the ambulance service, blood collection and donation, as well as measures against dengue and polio .

She said the PRCS School Safety Program was a wonderful initiative that they wished to introduce in Afghanistan with the cooperation and assistance of Dr Saeed Elahi.

Dr Saeed Elahi said the PRCS was going to set up a hospital in Kabul with the cooperation of Government of Pakistan that will help to reduce the Afghan patients’ influx in the Pakistani hospitals.