ISLAMABAD    -   The Polio Eradication Program (PEP) yesterday sought support of local health organizations to end the polio virus as it planned a nationwide anti-polio drive in the country during this month to vaccinate around 40 million children.

In a statement, the PEP said that it will conduct its first national polio campaign from September 21 after a suspension of four months due to the COVID-19, with an aim of reaching 40 million children.

Subsequently, other national and sub-national campaigns will be conducted in coming months to reach children to control the poliovirus circulation. These campaigns are intensifying efforts in view of a polio-free country and the world for future generations.

The statement further said that senior local health organisations of the country have vowed their full support to the government in its efforts to end polio from Pakistan. The office bearers of Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA), Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) confirmed their support to promote polio vaccination, including routine immunisation in a virtual roundtable meeting organised by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio Eradication.

The purpose of the meeting was to share the present polio situation in the country and explore ways to tackle the ongoing challenges.

Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, Coordinator NEOC, chaired the meeting.

Dr. Safdar briefed the participants about various ongoing initiatives to curb polio from the country including activities to address the negative community perceptions about polio-vaccination interventions. He called upon the leading Pakistani paediatricians to work as positive voices for the programme in support of eradicating polio.

The participants also discussed a broad range of issues including social vaccine acceptance, addressing general perception about the vaccine, restoring confidence in the polio workers, the introduction of mandatory use of vaccine certificate link to CNIC, engagement of family physicians and synergy and effective coordination between Afghanistan and Pakistan to implement campaigns.

Prof. Dr. Iqbal Ahmad Memon, a renowned paediatrician from Karachi and the National Technical Advisory Group member, appreciated the PPE programme’s efforts.

Dr. Shafiq Rehman from the NEOC presented the situation of polio in the country. The meeting was attended by Dr. Ghulam Rasool Buriro – President PPA Sindh, Dr. Saleem Paryani – President PPA Karachi, Dr. Ashraf Nizami – President PMA Punjab, Professor Dr. Masood Sadiq – President PPA, Punjab and Dr. Bawar Shah – Secretary PPA Central among others.