Health

Donors, Partners discuss path forward for Polio Eradication

Islamabad – Partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and Donors met in Islamabad to assess the needs of the Pakistan Polio Programme and discuss the path forward for eradication.
Speaking to country representatives and global polio partners, Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said that the children of Pakistan need more support than ever. “The current humanitarian crisis in the country has affected at least 16 million children. In these times, it is more crucial than ever to protect them from the risk of lifelong paralysis caused by polio,” he said.
Representatives from donor countries reaffirmed their commitment and said it was because of years of support to global polio eradication efforts that the world is now over 99% polio-free. More efforts need to be made for Pakistan and Afghanistan to make the final push and eliminate the disease from the world.
This year, polio endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, have had 22 children paralyzed by wild polio. In Pakistan, 17 polio cases have been reported from North Waziristan alone, with the last case confirmed in a 10-month boy by the National Institute of Health on Wednesday.
“Despite the number of wild poliovirus cases in southern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the programme has managed to protect children from polio in other parts of the country. This highlights the strength of the programme that needs more support as they revise strategies and reach displaced populations in wake of the floods,” he added.
“With over 33 million people affected by the floods and such large-scale displacement, we expect wild poliovirus transmission to spread,” said National Emergency Operations Centre Dr Shahzad Baig. “It is crucial to support polio eradication at this point and interrupt transmission.”
The polio programme is contributing to flood relief efforts by conducting health camps in calamity-hit districts that offer basic clinical services and routine immunization antigens for children and pregnant women. 
The meeting was attended by representatives of ISDB, Rotary International, German Embassy, Canadian Embassy, Norwegian Embassy, USAID, European Union, JICA and British High Commission.
An estimated 20 million people have been protected from polio since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988.

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