Islamabad - Despite a visible decline in polio cases during the last three years the virus still has core reservoirs in several parts of the country, the official said on Tuesday, it was stated in a meeting held by the National Polio Management Team (NPMT) at the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) to review the progress on National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) and chalk out a strategic direction for the low transmission season 2018/19. 

The meeting headed by Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq was attended by the National Coordinator Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, and Provincial Coordinators along with respective leads of the partner organization as well as the National and Provincial EPI Directors. 

 The National Coordinator for Polio Eradication Dr. Rana Safdar said that “An overall 97% decline in the number of cases from highs of 306 in 2014 to only 8 in 2017 is very encouraging, and we are striving for the magical number ‘Zero’.” Nevertheless, despite a decreased intensity of transmission, the virus continues to be challenging by appearing in environmental samples from core reservoirs of Karachi, Quetta Block, and Peshawar, he added. 

The NPMT further undertook thorough deliberations on ways to mitigate the potential risks area by area. The team observed that the programme needs support from all segments of the society to convey the right messages to communities that still fall prey to negative propaganda against vaccinations, unfortunately, 5 out of 8 children are paralyzed by poliovirus in 2017 due to their family’s refusal of vaccinating their children due to various social and religious misconceptions.   Polio vaccine remains the safest human vaccine available and over 10 billion doses administered across the globe have not resulted in even a single case of adverse reaction anywhere in the world.

 Pakistan’s progress towards polio eradication is acknowledged by national and international bodies. The commitment of the Federal and Provincial Governments has been the key towards polio turn around in the country. One of the team’s strategy under the network of dynamic Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs) established at national and provincial levels, data-driven scientific management, and real-time risk assessment and response is taking the country closer to the finish line.

 Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq also appreciated the commitment of Pakistan’s parents and communities and urged them to ensure vaccination of all under-five children. 

 “There are no magic solutions to ending the transmission of the poliovirus, just hard work is needed to make sure that we are helping parents to protect their children from polio by focusing on the basics to ensure success by our frontline workers at the doorstep and inside the homes of more than 38 million children.” underlined Senator Farooq.