Polio eradication efforts to be intensified: PM

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Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Monday expressed his satisfaction over the ongoing campaign of polio-eradication as there was only one case of polio reported since January 2012 in the country and that too in FATA where there is problem of accessibility due to security situation. The Prime Minister called for redoubling of efforts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to reach children in security compromised areas with polio vaccine. He gave these directions while presiding over a meeting of the National Task Force on Polio Eradication here on Monday.
The meeting was attended among others by the governor and the chief ministers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, the Sindh health minister, the AJK acting prime minister, the chief secretaries of Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan and the Islamabad chief commissioner. The prime minister directed that permanent polio points be established on all routes leading out of FATA so that every child coming out of the inaccessible areas can be covered. Commending the overall progress made in the country in polio eradication with 16 cases reported so far this year as against 36 cases in the corresponding period last year, the Prime Minister said he was happy to note that there had been a progressive improvement in the polio campaign coverage which has shown a significant upward trend with 80 percent districts having over 95 percent coverage as against only 42 percent districts having over 95 percent coverage in December 2011. Prime Minister Gilani asked the Chief Ministers to ensure active involvement of parliamentarians in the polio drive through their inclusion in polio eradication committees adding the Chief Ministers and Chief Secretaries to chair polio meeting every two months to review the level of preparedness. To ensure effective conduct of the campaigns at the district level, the Prime Minister directed that more authority and powers be given to the Deputy Commissioners. Appreciating the Governments of Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK for maintaining Polio-free status, the Prime Minister asked them to inspire other provinces to follow suit. The Prime Minister appreciated the management of Motorway and
Highways for creating awareness among the people about the disease. He further directed that Railway stations, airports and premises of hospitals should be used for the purpose. Earlier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Shahnaz Wazir Ali gave a detailed presentation on the implementation status of the National Emergency Action Plan. She informed that with intense effort made by the Government, all Deputy Commissioners are now fully involved and responsible for polio campaigns in their districts. She made special mention of the involvement of religious leaders in the effort garnered through the efforts of Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah. Media and medical associations were now fully engaged and playing a pro-active role, she informed. She called for co-ordination between the Routine Immunization program for children and the Polio Eradication Initiative to achieve optimal results. She said that all financial resources for polio eradication drive are being contributed by partner agencies, while there is a need to share financial contribution for polio eradication initiative from the Government of Pakistan. Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Co-ordination Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani in his remarks pledged all out support and laid out a system of co-ordination between his Ministry and the Polio Eradication Initiative being led by the Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring and Co-ordination Cell. Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Barrister Masood Kausar informed that all out efforts are being made to arrest the spread of polio virus in FATA. So far over 26,000 children have been immunized in Bara tehsil of Khyber agency, an area reporting the highest number of polio cases this year. Issuance of ID cards and domicile in FATA and FR regions has been made conditional with the child’s immunization status, he informed. Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ameer Haider Khan Hoti informed that despite challenges posed by law and order situation in and around different districts of KP, the campaign has been intensified and no case has been reported from the province since mid-January this year. Special immunization activities are being conducted for migrant and moving population especially those moving into the province from neighboring FATA and those in the IDP camps. Minister for I.T. from Balochistan, Shama Parveen Magsi informed that stern action is being taken against poor performing officials.The Government of Balochistan has allocated Rs. 15.5 Million for the Polio Campaigns from its resources, she added. Health Minister Sindh Dr. Sagheer Ahmed informed that the Sindh Government was taking the polio effort in Karachi seriously with the result that no case has been reported from Karachi which is a high risk district.