ISLAMABAD-Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on polio eradication Saturday urged the government to focus on decreasing the number of missed children in polio reservoir areas to reach the goal of zero cases.

The group under the chair Jean-Marc Olivé met the Minister of State for National Health Services (NHS), Saira Afzal Tarar and other officials.

TAG delegation asked the government to maintain its performance in the country for eradication of the disease and to strengthen coordination with Afghanistan for the elimination of virus.

The group, which held the meeting to assess the polio eradication program expressed satisfaction on it.

Chair of the TAG Jean-Marc Olivé said, on this occasion, that Pakistan’s progress towards reaching zero cases since the last TAG meeting in June 2016 has been remarkable.

“I am confident that we are in a good position to finish the job and I encourage everyone to continue the great work they have been doing in these past months,” he said according to official press statement.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq said that TAG has given government reassurance on its efforts.

Regional Director of WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, Dr Mahmoud Fikri renewed World Health Organization’s commitment to the Government of Pakistan.

Secretary NHS Ayub Sheikh said that TAG recommendations will be implemented in letter and spirit to uproot the poliovirus from country.

Since last TAG meeting, Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) has made progress towards polio eradication.

Consequently, the number of children paralysed by the wild poliovirus has dropped from 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015 to 20 in 2016 and only two in 2017 so far.

A high-level delegation of the Government of Pakistan and key partner agencies to the Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan, including Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC), Saira Afzal Tarar, Secretary NHSRC Ayub Sheikh, Regional Director of WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region, Dr Mahmoud Fikri, and Jean Gough, Regional Director for UNICEF South Asia joined the closing session of the two-day TAG in Islamabad. Senior representatives from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International, Centre for Disease Control and other key donors and partners also joined the meeting.