LAHORE - The World Health Organization (WHO) has appreciated government steps for polio eradication.

Addressing a seminar on “Poliomyelitis- the Endgame Strategy”, at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Monday, WHO Team Lead for Polio Eradication in Punjab, Dr Raul Bonifacio said that in the last stage of polio eradication, Pakistan has made tremendous progress towards poliovirus transmission interruption and eradication.

“The number of cases has declined from 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015, 20 in 2016 and eight in 2017. In 2018, only one polio case has so far been reported from Dukki, Balochistan”, he informed.

Pakistan is one of three countries in the world with ongoing wild poliovirus transmission, alongside Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Dr Bonifacio added that eradication efforts had begun to close the immunity gaps and the programme was on track to reaching the goal of interrupting the transmission of polio in Pakistan.  He further said that the genetic picture for Pakistan today provided basis for optimism especially if the gains achieved so far are sustained and intensified in the remaining areas of residual wild poliovirus transmission. He pointed out that the virus is cornered in just three sanctuaries – the Khyber-Peshawar corridor, Karachi and the Quetta block. “However, the risks to Pakistan span beyond these areas and a determined focus on delivering high quality campaigns that ensure finding and vaccinating every missed child is critical to stop virus circulation”, he opined.

WHO Surveillance Officer, Dr Ujala Nayyar said that a vast majority of parents in Pakistan accepted the polio vaccine: very few refusing vaccination in the highest risk areas. She added that the programme is using a combination of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) to boost individual immunity of children (aged 4-23 months). Combining OPV and IPV provides stronger protection against polio.  IPV strengthens immunity in the blood while OPV strengthens immunity in the gut.

UHS Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mahmood Shaukat called for bridging the gap in training facilities and procedures to improve clinical diagnosis of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP).

Minister reviews Erdogan Hospital opening plan

Minister for Specialized Healthcare & Medical Education Kh Salman Rafiq chaired a meeting on Monday to review arrangements for inauguration of Tayyip Erdogan Hospital Muzaffargarh. Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif would inaugurate 380 bed hospital during the ongoing month.

Project Director Infrastructural Development Authority (IDAP) Ansur Farid, Consultant Anees Sati, Medical Superintendent Dr Irfan, Electrical Engineer Iqbal Syed, Architect Ayesha Imtiaz and other officers attended the meeting. Tayyip Erdogan Hospital was initially 130-beds facility. 250-beds were included after upgradation of the hospital. The hospital would have MRI, CT scan and other latest diagnostic facilities.