ISLAMABAD - President Mamnoon Hussain on Monday reiterated unwavering commitment of the present government to protect the children from polio and eventually eradicating the crippling disease from all parts of the country, and said that the government had declared polio eradication a health emergency.

According to an official handout, the president stated this while chairing a briefing on polio eradication campaigns and the latest situation in the efforts for stamping out the disease.

Ayesha Raza Farooq, PM's Focal Person on Polio Eradication, briefed the meeting on latest polio situation, the polio campaigns and the various steps being taken by the government for eradicating the polio from Pakistan. The meeting was informed that around 34 million children were being vaccinated in every national polio drive.

Arbab Muhammad Arif, Additional Chief Secretary FATA, apprised the meeting of various strategies and innovative approaches being employed by the FATA Secretariat for polio eradication in all the seven agencies and six frontier regions (FRs) of FATA.

The meeting was apprised that a new transit strategy had been introduced to cover children moving out of and into FATA through special polio teams and transit points had been established to vaccinate those children.

The president stressed for further strengthening of existing special civil-military coordination mechanism in FATA and directed the FATA Task Force, established under the leadership of governor KP, to undertake all necessary steps to ensure consistent reach to all the children in FATA for polio vaccination. He also called upon the FATA authorities to ensure that challenges in FATA, especially in North and South Waziristan Agencies where certain groups had clamped a ban on polio campaigns, were met with locally appropriate solutions and in accordance with local traditions and norms.

The president reiterated for engaging local populace, especially the influential people, including prayer leaders, religious scholars and tribal elders in the fight against polio and persuading people to allow vaccination in the interest of their own children.