Pakistan implementing IMB’s recommendations on polio eradication effectively: Mirza

ISLAMABAD, Jun 30 (APP):Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza on Tuesday said the year 2019 was challenging for the country on account of the poliovirus as now the recommendations of Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) on the eradication of deadly disease were being implemented effectively.

Addressing the virtual meeting of Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) on Polio Eradication, Dr Mirza said 2019 proved to be an extremely challenging year for the polio eradication programme and the recommendations of the October 2019 were well taken and were on course for being implemented.

He said, “The national team re-organized rebuilding the one team approach at national and provincial levels and we now have a strong one team that interacts effectively with a sense of collective responsibility. I took this responsibility by myself and I am thankful for the encouraging response from our political leadership.”

“We all have witnessed the level of engagement across all parties starting from December 2019.”

He said the polio programme was running very effective media campaigns on print and electronic media. He shared that December 2019 and February 2020 nationwide polio campaigns went very well.

He said they had reviewed the micro-planning process, restructured the staffing, simplified the tools, focused on training of front-line workers that includes training on interpersonal communication. The frontline workers had done a remarkable job conveying a very positive message to vulnerable communities, he added.

“The programme must deal with the dual challenge of wild poliovirus and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus amid the most exceptional social and economic upheaval occasioned by the worst pandemic in a century.”

The impact of COVID-19 on economy and on communities, he said, was unprecedented. Following the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) guidelines, like many other countries, all polio activities in Pakistan were suspended in March as COVID-19 cases started rising.

“We have full support of the NCOC (National Command and Operation Centre) as well as the top offices of the country, including the prime minister and chief ministers as well. We look forward to IMB guidance to further crystalize our efforts and reiterate our commitment to leave no stone unturned to ensure a paralysis-free future for our children and that of the world.”

Dr Rana Safdar, National Coordinator, Pakistan Polio Programme gave details of the upcoming polio campaigns. He appreciated the remarkable job done by the frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic conveying a very positive message to the vulnerable communities.

He hoped to carry out very well-planned polio campaigns in future, saying,”We look forward to IMB guidance which will further strengthen the programme.

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