Islamabad - During the last four years Pakistan has witnessed 97 percent reduction in the reported polio cases, as the number of cases fell from 306 to 8 in the year 2017, said Coordinator National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio Eradication, on Thursday.

In an event held here NEOC Coordinator Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar gave a detailed briefing on the current Polio epidemiology and the plans in hand to interrupt Polio virus transmission during 2018. Since 2014 there has been an overall 97% reduction in polio cases in Pakistan: from 306 cases in 2014 to 8 in 2017. This year two polio cases have been reported, he said.

Maintaining the highest quality SIAs in alignment with Afghanistan with focus on hotspots will do the job along with convergence of efforts for strengthening Routine Immunization, Water & Sanitation as well as nutrition especially in areas of remaining Polio concerns, Rana stated.  “Building from the Prime Minister’s commitment this is emblematic of the enormous progress we have achieved and we sincerely thank Minister Saira Afzal Tarar for getting us to the cusp of eradication, Dr Rana summed up.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq said on this occasion that Pakistan’s historic progress in working towards polio eradication would not have been achieved without the dedicated leadership of the minister, Saira Afzal Tarar.

Minister Saira Afzal Tarar, whilst extending her appreciation to the polio team, reiterated that, “Polio eradication enjoyed a broad political and public support in our country and this commitment has made a difference when our people came together to work above political lines towards a national cause.” She insisted that in her notes to the transition government, the country had no option but to continue the course set for eradication. She also thanked the frontline workers for their dedication.

The programme has been conducting monthly immunization campaigns this year as the last push to kick the poliovirus out of the country. With focused efforts in the current hot spots, and while sustaining gains everywhere else, the programme is working tirelessly for virus interruption in Pakistan.  Sehat Muhafiz frontline health workers are at the centre of polio eradication efforts. During nation-wide immunization campaigns, 260,000 dedicated men and women walked from house-to -house and vaccinated every child under the age of 5. By ensuring that no child is missed, they are building immunity at community level, a critical step on the road to eradication.

The Secretary and Director General NHSRC attended the event besides the National Coordinator, Technical Focal Person from Armed Force and representatives of WHO, UNICEF, MBGF and N-STOP. The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio Eradication today honoured the Federal Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Saira Afzal Tarar, MP for her strong leadership and impressive record of results in Pakistan’s fight against polio.