islamabad - Pakistan continues to make pace towards the goal of World Polio Virus (WPV) interruption, but the effort requires additional support from global partners, said focal person on polio eradication program on Wednesday.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq said this during bidding farewell to the outgoing Country Representative of UNICEF in Pakistan Angela Kearney here at the National Emergency Operation Centre.

Senator Ayesha said, “Recently finalised National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) 2017-18 showcases our resolve as we are further committing to maintain our aggressiveness to finish the job. This will require additional support from all our global partners including UNICEF, WHO, BMGF, IsDB and more importantly GPEI.”

She said that Pakistan continues to make strides towards the goal of WPV interruption. As of today, Pakistan has reported only 3 WPV1 cases in 2017 compared to 14 in the same time period of 2016 signifying almost 80 per cent decline.

Situation in core reservoirs continues to improve further with only ONE case reported from Killa Abdullah - Quetta Block with onset of 11 June 2017 (92 per cent point in time reduction in core reservoirs). The remaining two cases occurred in remote areas outside the traditional active transmission zones.

She informed the outgoing UNICEF CR that the main focus of the program is on Quetta Block due to extensive population movements across the border with Afghanistan.

“In 2017, we have witnessed one case in Killa Abdullah and 2 cases each in Helmand and Kandhar indicating intensity of virus transmission on either side of the border,” she said.

The senator said, “UNICEF support has been imperative throughout the observed turn around in polio eradication in the country and our partnership will continue even after we get rid of this deadly disease from Pakistan and the globe.”

She said UNICEF has played an active role in helping Pakistan reach so close to the finish line in the fight against polio.

“Angela and her entire team will be remembered for their valuable contributions towards the progress of polio program,” said the senator.

Reciprocating her feelings for the program leadership and the Senator, UNICEF CR Angela Kearney said that “With full presence of community based vaccinators and successful implementation of different strategies to consistently reach all children, stopping transmission looks well within reach.”

The LQAS and PCM results since April 2017 have shown overall high coverage of above 95 per cent and pass rate and environmental samples have also started turning increasingly green despite high transmission season.

National Coordinator for Emergency Operation Centre, Dr Rana Safdar said that Rawalpindi-Islamabad is another hotspot where intense efforts are underway to clean the virus from environment.

He said that dedicated national teams and global partners are equally taking up the challenge of fighting out the virus in Karachi.

“All these areas are equally important and we cannot afford any leniency at this point in time,” he added.

Routine immunization continues to be of critical importance as we head towards literally the last mile in the fight against Polio. All three cases in 2017 have been zero routine immunization.