ISLAMABAD            -       Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services (NHS) Dr. Zafar Mirza on Tuesday said that 2019 was a challenging year to eradicate polio and now the country was effectively implementing recommendations of Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) on polio eradication.  

Addressed a meeting of Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) on polio eradication, Dr. Zafar Mirza said that 2019 proved to be an extremely challenging year for the programme and the recommendations of October 2019 were well taken and were on course for being implemented. 

He said, “The national team re-organized rebuilding the one team approach at national and provincial levels and now we have a strong one team that interacts effectively with a sense of collective responsibility. I took this responsibility by myself and I am thankful for the encouraging response from our political leadership. We all have witnessed the level of engagement across all parties starting from December 2019.”  

Dr. Zafar Mirza added that polio programme was running very effective media campaigns on print and electronic media. He shared that December 2019 and February 2020 nationwide polio campaigns went very well. He said that they have reviewed the micro-planning process, restructured the staffing, simplified the tools, focused on training of front-line workers that include training on interpersonal communication. “The programme must deal with the dual challenge of wild poliovirus and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus amid the most exceptional social and economic upheaval occasioned by the worst pandemic in a century. The impact of Covid-19 on our economy and on communities is unprecedented. Following the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) guidelines, like many other countries, all Polio SIA activities suspended in March as COVID-19 cases started rising” he remarked. 

He added, “We have full support of the NCOC as well as the top offices of the country including the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers as well as the Chief of the Army Staff. We look forward to IMB guidance to further crystalize our efforts and reiterate our commitment to leave no stone unturned to ensure a paralysis free future for our children and that of the world.” 

Dr. Rana Safdar, National Coordinator, Pakistan Polio Programme, gave details of the upcoming polio campaigns. He appreciated the remarkable job done by the frontline workers during the pandemic of Covid-19 conveying a very positive message to vulnerable communities. He said they were very hopeful to carry out very well planned polio campaigns in future. He said that we look forward to IMB guidance which would further strengthen the programme.