ISLAMABAD - The challenges and opportunities to eradicate polio in Pakistan.

Senior leaders from the Pakistani government including Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Zafar Mirza, Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta, as well as leaders of the polio eradication programme at the country and global levels are meeting in Islamabad to brief the Technical Advisory Group members on the ongoing efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan.

Speaking at the TAG meeting, Dr Zafar Mirza assured the TAG of the Government’s utmost commitment to make Pakistan polio-free, while addressing any remaining challenges including, most notably, community resistance to vaccination, low levels of essential immunization coverage, as well as sub-optimal accountability and performance management at the district level.

“The Government of Pakistan is fully committed to polio eradication”, said the SAPM. “Despite the identified challenges, we have not lost our resolve to end polio. We remain committed to turn around this situation as soon as possible and secure a polio-free country, and a polio-free world”, he added.

Dr. Zafar Mirza mentioned that the Prime Minister of Pakistan is leading polio eradication efforts in the country and efforts are underway to ensure that the gravity of the current polio situation, with 58 cases reported so far this year, is communicated and stressed upon at all levels of government bureaucracy across the country.

Addressing members of the TAG, the Minister also highlighted the importance of strengthening synergies between the polio eradication programme and the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) as well as other programmes delivering integrated services such as the Ehsaas programme, so communities that are vulnerable for polio also receive other critical interventions that will improve their lives.

Appreciating the efforts of polio frontline workers despite the existing challenges, State Minister of Health also expressed his gratitude to all international partners and donors for standing with Pakistan through the crucial phase in Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio.