ISLAMABAD - In view of the emergency situation of polio eradication in the country and upsurge in the number of cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and FATA, the Prime Minister's Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell has been placed under the Expended Programme on Immunisation (EPI).

The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination streamlined the affairs of the Cell, saying that there was a need to enhance government ownership and supervision of the programme.

The notification issued by the ministry said it has been observed that the regular meetings of the National Steering Committee on Polio Eradication are not being held. These meetings are vital to the strategic decision making process. It has been decided henceforth that the national programme manager EPI will preside all weekly meetings of the national steering committee and act as ex-officio national coordinator for polio eradication as per previous practice.

It has also been decided that Secretary Ministry of NHSR&C Imtiaz Inayat Elahi will preside over monthly meetings of the national steering committee and review the progress against national emergency action plan.

Mazhar Nisar who was earlier working as a communication specialist for the PM Polio Cell, has been assigned to work as a director implementation at the ministry. He said that before the establishment of polio cell, the programme was coordinated by the health ministry and EPI and now the same arrangement has been put in place.

Earlier too the programme was being implemented by the EPI virtually in provinces like other vaccination activities and this development will make the coordination more effective.  He informed that Altaf Bosan ho was heading the Cell has been assigned to work as a national technical focal person on polio now.

The PM's cell for polio control was closed in May this year too by the caretaker government but after the reaction of international polio eradication partners against the decision it was restored by the new government. Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State for NHSR&C, had directed the staff of the cell to restart its operations.

But this time there is hardly any reaction as that was an interim government and this fulltime government is in the lead on all health initiatives and they can decide the best possible direction for all its projects.