islamabad - The International Monitoring Board (IMB) of Global Polio Eradication Initiative has recommended the government to urgently review and enhance local mirco-planning to access every child for immunization in the country.

The IMB was constituted in November 2010, at the request of World Health Assembly to monitor and guide the progress of Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s 2010-2012, Strategic Plan.

It has been recommended to Pakistan that it should also enhance the methods of harvesting highly granular local knowledge on individual children’s whereabouts and experience of the local teams should also be purified.

For the guest-children regularly moving with their families who do not revive the polio vaccine even after catch-up immunization the IMB recommended that Pakistan should establish a new strategy to address this issue based on integrating mobile populations into the whole process of micro planning and local program management, and enlisting community leadership in vaccination efforts.

“All available sources of data show that the levels of routine immunization in the polio-vulnerable areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan are very poor, despite substantial investments by Gavi and other groups,” report said.

The report also suggested that a system of innovation hubs should be established in Pakistan and Afghanistan which should seek the input of local people, individuals entirely outside the public health field, and young people who are not used to working in formal organizational structures.

Meanwhile, Minister of National Health Regulations & Services (NHS), Saira Afzal Tarar, in a statement, welcomed the assessment and recommendations of the report said that government is fully committed to this battle against the crippling virus until its complete eradication.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq said that there are no magic solutions to achieve this public health milestone for Pakistan and the world, just continued hard work and dedication.

In its report titled ‘Every Last Virus’, the IMB commended performance of Pakistan polio eradication program while noting that it benefits from the exceptional political leadership, skill and commitment on the part of the health minister, the prime minister’s focal person for polio eradication and the provincial secretaries. 

The report noted that in reviewing Pakistan, IMB has gained the impression of a high-performing program which is backed up by the available data.

The program has had two cases of paralytic polio associated with wild poliovirus in 2017, both of which were outside the endemic reservoirs and subject to a very aggressive response.

IMB did voiced concern over program quality in the Quetta Block which is still well below peak performance and contains the highest number of susceptible children.  

For a variety of reasons, transformative change has not yet been achieved. The IMB also noted that the single biggest issue confronting the polio program in Pakistan is how to effectively reach the large numbers of children on the move with their families and therefore, do not receive the polio vaccine.

The report also recommended an immediate and major boost to the quality of routine immunization in the polio reservoirs which could be the decisive blow to the poliovirus.

Immunity data are the ultimate arbiter of protection and study results show high levels of protection in every province tested except for the Quetta block.

The IMB also acknowledged that the current scale of environmental sampling in Pakistan is unprecedented.  

The report noted that there can be no room for complacency about the positive environmental samples recorded but two years ago, the presence of these samples would have sparked cases of paralytic polio.

The IMB releases quarterly reports to provide an honest and transparent external assessment of the progress being made towards polio eradication.