ISLAMABAD-Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services on Friday said that no new travel restrictions have been imposed on the country.

In a statement released by the ministry, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services (NHS) Dr. Zafar Mirza said that there was no new polio related travel restriction.

It said “The WHO Emergency Committee recommendations (not travel restrictions) were first made in May 2014 and have since then been periodically reviewed and extended for all countries infected by Polio virus.”

Dr. Mirza said that Pakistan had a challenging year for Polio eradication in 2019.

As of today, 134 of our children have been paralysed by this debilitating disease.

The government has put in place a comprehensive plan to reverse the situation in 2020 starting with the roll out of a successful nationwide Polio vaccination campaign in December.

Commenting on the WHO IHR Emergency Committee recommendations regarding vaccination of international travellers from Pakistan and other infected countries, the spokesperson shared that these were made in 2014 to prevent the transmission of virus from infected countries to other areas.

“Pakistan implemented the same immediately as a responsible member of the international community and has been doing so since then,” he remarked.

It was further shared that over 500,000 international travellers from Pakistan receive Polio vaccine every month prior to departure and the certificate issued in this respect is valid for 12 months.

Around 180,000 travellers of all ages are additionally vaccinated every month at Pak-Afghan border crossings.

The spokesperson completely denied the reports of any additional recommendations imposed by WHO committee for the incoming international visitors travelling to Pakistan.

Pakistan Polio eradication programme faced special challenges in 2019 which led to resurgence of Polio cases during the year.

The programme, however, conducted a critical analysis of the situation and devised a comprehensive strategy to overcome challenges in sustainable manner.

Dr. Mirza stated that besides the ongoing programme transformation in high risk areas, the government was working across political divide to take the agenda forward as a shared priority.

Besides extensive community engagement, the Ministry of NHSRC has already moved on integration of the Polio programme with EPI to quickly improve routine immunisation coverage particularly in the high risk areas.

Dr. Mirza also informed that the transformation plan and the roadmap was shared with global leadership including the Polio Oversight Board that expressed its confidence on it and reassured Pakistan of the fullest support to achieve a Polio-free Pakistan and the world.