LAHORE - Punjab has come a long way in polio eradication and zero polio cases in 2016 provide an ample proof of the hard work done by over 40,000 polio teams.

These views were expressed by Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator Dr Munir Ahmad while talking to a selected group of news editors at a local hotel here the other day.

The event was organised by the Emergency Operations Centre of the health department, Punjab, to brief the national media about the challenge in polio eradication and upcoming National Immunization Drive starting from today.

The briefing was attended by news editors from prestigious organisations including The Nation Editor Salim Bokhari, a renowned columnist writer and senior journalist. Attiya Qazi, Team Lead Unicef Punjab polio section, GAVI and WHO representatives were also present.

Speaking on the occasion EOC coordinator said: “Zero human does not mean that polio has been eradicated in Pakistan as well as Punjab. The challenges still remain as environmental sampling conducted recently in the province confirms polio virus circulation.” “There is no room for complacency as in Punjab, which accounts for nearly 65 per cent of the country’s population, children are at major risk from the population coming from reservoir districts of the country,” he said.

“Such children who have missed their routine immunization and have not received polio vaccination during repeated national as well as sub-national immunization rounds are at major risk along with other children living in such areas,” he warned.

Dr Munir urged parents to be forthcoming to the polio teams knocking at the doors every month. “We are in the last stages of polio eradication. Repeated rounds may be annoying for some of the parents but this is absolutely necessary to wipe out the paralyzing virus once and for all during this year,” the EOC emphasised.

Talking on the occasion Ms Huma Khawar stressed on the media to counter check information before its publication or sending it on air.

Salim Bokhari paid rich tributes to the polio workers and media who were ‘doing their duty at the cost of their lives’.

“Media needs additional applause as they are doing their work despite limited sources of information,” Bokhari added.

Polio eradication partners unveiled several key web resources for media to obtain information. This included a website endpolio.com.pk being run by the Federal Emergency Operations Centre.

A second two-way polio communication portal was also displayed on the occasion which could be reached at www.endpolio.com.pk/portal.