ISLAMABAD - The federal government has asked the provinces to involve other departments too, besides health department, in the ongoing polio eradication campaign that is underway with the financial as well as technical assistance of the World Health Organisation. Federal Director General Health Dr Rashid Jooma spoke at length on the need to involve other sectors like education, police and railways to support the drive against polio. The DG highlighted a coordinated approach to polio eradication while addressing a high-level meeting of the provincial health ministries involving other relevant functionaries and officials here on Friday. The meeting took stock of the polio eradication efforts in the backdrop of alarming increase in polio cases across the country. The meeting resolved to intensify the fight against the menace. Addressing the provincial ministers, Federal Minister Mir Aijaz Jakhrani emphasised the need to improve implementation at the district level. In his welcome remarks, Federal Secretary Health Suleman Ghani said inter-provincial collaboration through the health ministers' meeting on the issue was an important strategy. The meeting would provide the inertia to focus energies in a better way, besides offering fresh input and insight, to the polio eradication initiative, he said. Secretary Health dwelt on the need for developing synergies and improved collaboration to achieve optimal results. Regional Director WHO-EMRO Dr Hussein A Gezairy said, "We must begin the year with the resolve to hit the polio virus with full force." He said Pakistan had the capability and the capacity to eradicate the virus and there was political will, determination and commitment in that regard. Emphasising the need to strengthen routine immunisation, he stressed to redouble efforts for enhancing routine immunisation cover in Pakistan significantly. In his remarks Health Minister Balochistan Ainullah Shams said his government was making all-out efforts in combating polio and there was a strong political commitment to the cause. He said the involvement of politicians in the effort was being enhanced and he had personally written to members of the Balochistan Assembly to monitor the drive in their respective areas. A Polio Monitoring Cell was going to be established soon in the office of the Provincial Health Minister at Quetta, he added. Health Minister of Sindh Sagheer Ahmed said collaboration amongst provinces was of paramount importance to deal with issues that affected all. He appreciated the initiative taken by the Federal Health Minister to convene an inter-provincial meeting on the issue. He said the Sindh government was up-scaling monitoring of the campaign to improve its overall quality and there was commitment at the highest level in that regard. He said the DCOs in the province were fully engaged and efforts were being made to do away with frequent postings and transfers of EDOs to improve management of the initiative. The Secretary Health NWFP said there were numerous challenges confronting the province with regard to containing the spread of the poliovirus. The major challenge was providing vaccination service in the security compromised areas. "A number of doctors and health staff have either been kidnapped or have lost their lives while participating in the polio campaign in these areas," informed the Secretary. He said the 'days of tranquility' with the help of tribal elders and ulema in those areas were over again. He said cross-border movement on the Pak-Afghan border was a major challenge, as unvaccinated children carried the poliovirus across. In this connection cross-border vaccination points were being fortified and monitoring was being enhanced, the Secretary informed. Secretary Health AJK speaking on the occasion said the area had been polio-free for the last eight years. He attributed success to strengthened routine immunisation and public health education. Secretary Health Northern Areas informed that FANA had been polio-free for over a decade. The DG Health Punjab informed that the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was according personal leadership to the initiative and had formed a task force to monitor the campaign in the province. He said case response and mop up were being strengthened and intensified social mobilisation campaign was being undertaken.